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PFAS Action Act Takes a Misguided Approach

Tom Flanagin

PFAS (or Fluorotechnology) are a large and diverse universe of chemistries that make possible the products that power our lives -- the cellphones, tablets and telecommunications we use every day to connect with our friends and family; the aircrafts that power the U.S. military; alternative energy sources; and medical devices that help keep us healthy. In fact, right now, PFAS are being used to support COVID-19 testing equipment and to provide lifesaving protection in medical garments – both uses that are helping save lives around the world in the midst of this pandemic. PFAS are vital to enabling our lives in the 21st century.

However, all PFAS are not the same. Individual chemistries have their own unique properties and uses, as well as environmental and health profiles.

We oppose legislation just introduced in the House of Representatives, the PFAS Action Act, which applies a one-size-fits all approach to regulating the wide variety of PFAS chemistries. Such an approach is neither scientifically accurate nor appropriate, and would limit consumers’ access to important products they rely on.  But don’t take our word for it. A scientific consensus is emerging that it is not accurate or even possible to group all PFAS chemistries together for the purpose of regulation.

Furthermore, this legislation takes decisions out of the hands of the career scientists at the EPA with respect to hazardous substance designations. These designations are scientific questions that Congress is not best positioned to address. We believe EPA’s career scientists have the expertise needed to examine these chemistries. Furthermore, CERCLA designations can create a legal morass that takes decades to resolve, so we disagree with the notion that this will ‘jump-start’ cleanup efforts.

Lawmakers and the public should know that in the U.S. there is regulatory process explicitly established for new PFAS chemistries, under which new PFAS substances are subject to strict controls under TSCA Section 5(e) orders before they are brought to market.

The public should also know that there has been substantial work already done and that is underway to address potential concerns with PFAS chemistries. In fact, some of the actions in this legislation are already underway. We have been pleased to work with regulators and lawmakers at the federal and state level on a host of initiatives to address key issues while continuing to allow for the important uses and benefits of PFAS technologies. Learn more about these efforts here. 

Our member companies are dedicated to the responsible production, use, and management of PFAS chemistries in a manner that protects the public health and our environment. In fact, in 2006, eight major manufacturers voluntarily joined the EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program, investing over $700 million in research and development. This included a commitment to cease the manufacture and use of PFOA and PFOS-related chemicals and also an agreement for new PFAS chemistry to undergo enhanced regulatory review before being permitted on the market. 

We will continue to engage with lawmakers and regulators on this important issue and support strong, science based chemical regulations that are protective of the safety of human health and the environment.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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