- The U.S. EPA is seeking public comment on whether to designate additional types of PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund. The 60-day comment period goes through June 12.
- The EPA has already said it plans to designate two types, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous under CERCLA. The agency could finalize that rule later this year. The EPA now seeks input on whether to include additional types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances like HFPO-DA, which is sometimes called GenX.
- The agency is also considering whether to include certain compounds that degrade in the environment to form PFAS, and also whether some PFAS compounds should be designated as a group or category.
Numerous waste industry stakeholders, including landfill operators, composters, recyclers and water treatment plant operators, have said the inclusion of PFAS as hazardous under CERCLA could have costly unintended consequences.
PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” can be found in many common items from nonstick pans to rain gear and some packaging. The chemicals can accumulate in the human body and can lead to numerous health problems, the agency says.
Industry associations such as the Solid Waste Association of North America and the National Waste & Recycling Association have said the designation could mean facilities might have to start rejecting PFAS-containing material, incur new processing costs or face lawsuits.
The groups held a congressional briefing in March to reiterate their request for Congress to grant the waste industry a narrow CERCLA exemption, saying the waste industry should be considered passive receivers of PFAS-containing material.
Yet some in the waste industry also see PFAS cleanup and management as a possible business opportunity. Others are investing in onsite wastewater infrastructure in anticipation of future rules that could affect daily operations.
The agency’s CERCLA hazardous substance designation is separate from another recent EPA proposal to set national drinking water standards for six types of PFAS. The agency had originally announced it would include just PFOA and PFOS in the drinking water regulation, but then added four additional types.
The EPA’s announcement that it could expand scrutiny to additional PFAS under CERCLA is part of a broader plan laid out in the PFAS Roadmap, a document meant to track the agency’s regulatory progress. Barry Breen, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, said in a statement yesterday that the process is a “commitment to transparency and the use of the best available science to tackle PFAS pollution and protect people from exposure to these forever chemicals.”