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PFAS Highlights in 2021

Tom Flanagin

As we begin the New Year, we wanted to highlight some of the significant activities that took place last year regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

EPA Unveils “Roadmap” for PFAS

Building off our update from the first half of the year, the most notable development was the announcement from EPA of their “Roadmap” for PFAS substances.

We are pleased that EPA is taking an approach to the regulation of PFAS chemistries that does not seek to regulate as a class. Importantly, the EPA’s Roadmap also sets the record straight about the true number of PFAS in commerce according to the TSCA active inventory – approximately 600 as opposed to the multiple thousands claimed by some. EPA’s Roadmap describes a very broad range of actions, and depending on how EPA implements the various requirements, it could have significant, far-reaching impacts. We look forward to engaging throughout the implementation process.

ACC Published in The Hill

As Congress debated multiple pieces of legislation that involved PFAS chemistries, we were pleased to work with The Hill to publish a substantive look at the issue for lawmakers.

Click here to read: The Hill: PFAS are vital to enabling our lives in the 21st century

Biden Administration Rejects Broad PFAS Restriction in House NDAA

We weren’t the only ones in 2021 arguing against broad brush restriction on PFAS. During Congressional debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the White House objected to a class-based restriction on PFAS, citing a potential lack of available alternatives.

OECD Emphasizes Diversity of PFAS Compounds

Additionally, the most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on PFAS terminology was released in September 2021. While the report utilizes an extremely broad definition “PFAS”, it clearly acknowledges the diversity of PFAS compounds. It also contains these important statements about PFAS:

  • “As PFASs are a chemical class with diverse molecular structures and physical, chemical and biological properties, it is highly recommended that such diversity be properly recognized and communicated in a clear, specific and descriptive manner.”
  • “The decision to broaden the definition [of PFAS] . . .  is not connected to decisions on how PFASs should be grouped in regulatory and voluntary actions.” “The term ‘PFASs’ does not inform whether a compound is harmful or not, but only communicates that the compounds under this term share the same trait for having a fully fluorinated methyl or methylene carbon moiety.”
  • “[T]he revised definition of PFASs . . . does not conclude that all PFASs have the same properties, uses, exposure and risks.”
  • “Therefore, it is recommended that users always ask the following two questions when drafting a statement: (1) Am I referring to all PFASs or not? (2) If not, what term(s) would mostly clearly describe the substance(s) that my statement is referring to?”

ATCS Makes the Case for C6 Fluorotelomers in Textile World

In November, Shawn Swearingen, Director of the Alliance for Telomer Chemistry Stewardship (ATCS), wrote a piece for Textile World outlining the important benefits C6 Fluorotelomers bring to the textiles industry, highlighting their support for strong, science-based regulations. Read his piece here:

Textile World: The Textile Industry Relies On C6 Fluorotelomers For Durable, Long-Lasting Products That Consumers Demand

We hope these updates are useful and look forward to continuing to work to address potential concerns while allowing for the critical benefits of these important chemistries

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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