A proposed federal rule that would require companies to disclose whether their products contain toxic “permanent” chemicals is the first government attempt to catalog PFASs spread across the United States. becomes.
Environmental Protection Agency regulations will require manufacturers to report many products containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These are a class of chemicals that do not break down in nature and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and hormonal abnormalities.
Businesses are required to disclose PFASs manufactured or imported between 2011 and the time this rule becomes effective, with no exceptions for impurities or by-products that cross-contaminate small businesses or products with PFASs. These disclosures will be publicly available, except for trade secrets related to data. The EPA plans to finalize the rule in the next few months, requiring companies to report within 12 months, EPA spokeswoman Catherine Milborn said.
Milborn said the effort would exclude pesticides, foods and food additives, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices that are regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Also, this is basically he a one-time reporting and record-keeping requirement, without companies being required to provide updates.
Still, the chemical and semiconductor industries complain that the EPA estimates it could cost them $1 billion to comply with the rule. The U.S. chemical industry is said to generate more than $500 billion annually.
Meanwhile, environmental health activists say that of the more than 12,000 PFAS chemicals used in everything from nonstick cookware to children’s school uniforms, only 1 in 10 are PFAS chemicals. It argues that this data collection effort would be flawed because it only occupies Further, they say, they cannot stop PFAS from entering the air, waste, or consumer products, nor can they remove existing contamination.
Congress amended the Toxic Substances Control Act in 2016, giving the EPA authority to track PFAS chemicals. Then, in 2019, a bipartisan effort signed by Republican President Donald Trump asked the EPA to inventory PFAS. But health activists warn that PFAS will continue to threaten humans and the environment unless Congress overhauls U.S. chemical laws and gives the EPA and other agencies more power.
These so-calledFrom wonder to bete noir in just 50 years. When PFAS debuted, it was revered for making nonstick pans nonstick and Gore-Tex his jackets waterproof. While it has the effect of repelling water and oil, it is durable enough to withstand long-term use. . As the chemicals accumulate in landfills, soils and drinking water, their strength has become their downside. , and ultimately the human body. As scientists learn more about the toxic nature of PFAS, governments around the world are setting limits or imposing outright bans.
Because PFAS are found in thousands of products (contact lenses, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals such as Prozac, paper plates, clothing, and dental floss, just to name a few), regulators do not have data on the extent of PFAS threats. I am obsessed with collecting. EPA’s data collection proposal is a move in that direction.
Milborn told KFF Health News that 1,364 PFASs may be subject to the rule, and EPA officials should consider public comments received and change the scope to capture additional substances. said they are deciding whether there will be
In contrast, the European Union is discussing banning or limiting 10,000 PFAS chemicals, according to European Chemicals Agency spokeswoman Hannah Kaisa Torqueli.
“In the United States, chemicals are innocent until proven guilty,” said Kyra Bennett, director of science policy at Environmentally Responsible Civil Servants, a nonprofit based outside Washington, DC. “In the EU and Japan, chemicals are guilty until proven safe. That’s why they have less PFAS.”
Lack of regulation in the US has led states to take matters into their own hands, pursuing bans on PFAS as deadlocks in Washington and industry lobbying prevent tougher federal laws.of MinnesotaLimit chemicals in menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, utensils, and dental floss. Maine law plans to ban all avoidable uses of PFAS by 2030. Vermont and California have banned the use of PFAS in food packaging.
Liz Hitchcock, director of federal policy programs at the national advocacy group Toxic Free Future, said, “The federal system currently doesn’t allow the government to say, ‘Let’s stop using PFAS.’ I am acting,” he said. “Even if it could, it wouldn’t clean up the mess that’s already been created.”
US courts are also considering PFAS contamination. June 22nd,It will pay up to $12.5 billion to settle lawsuits filed by communities across the country who allege their drinking water is contaminated with the Company’s PFAS-containing products.
Additionally, the U.S. military is moving to limit PFAS after reports that more than 600,000 soldiers were exposed to toxic chemicals in drinking water contaminated primarily by firefighting foam containing PFAS.
Removing PFAS waste from US military bases alone could cost at least $10 billion.Remove from USThe supply could add more than $3.2 billion in annual bills, according to a report commissioned by the American Water Works Association.
“The CDC estimates that 99 percent of Americans have PFAS in their blood,” says Melanie, vice chair for government affairs at the Environmental Task Force, a nonprofit that studies ingredients in household and consumer products. Mr Benes said. “We currently estimate that 200 million Americans are exposed to PFAS in their drinking water.”
The reason PFAS, despite their ubiquity, has not caused more outrage among the general public may be that the damage from PFAS chemicals is not immediate. Repeated exposure can have health effects over time.
“People don’t have headaches or coughs from exposure to PFAS,” Bennett said. “But they get cancer in a few years, and we don’t know why.”
Some environmental health activists, including Arthur Bowman III, policy director for the Center for Environmental Health, say the EPA’s data-gathering project could help. “It’s very easy for EPA to collect his PFAS information on cleaning products and other wet chemicals that contain his PFAS,” Bowman said. “And this will lead to the phase-out of PFAS.”
Some retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and REI recently announced plans to remove chemicals from many of their products.
But Bowman said it will be more difficult for manufacturers to remove PFASs used in making semiconductor chips and printed circuit boards because alternative products are still in the research stage.
The Semiconductor Industry Association told the EPA that semiconductor manufacturing is so complex that “it would be impossible to discern its existence, even with infinite time and resources,” and the proposed report. Seeking an exemption from the requirement. ) discusses his PFAS in articles like: Other industries are also seeking exemptions.
The American Chemical Council, which represents major PFAS manufacturers such as 3M, disagrees with calls to ban all types of PFAS chemicals. “Each individual chemical has its own unique properties and uses, as well as environmental and health profiles,” said Tom Flanagin, spokesman for the trade group.
Flanagin said the council’s member companies “support strong, science-based PFAS chemical regulation that protects human health and the environment,” but that the regulation “could hurt economic growth, harm businesses and consumers.” We should not prevent people from accessing the products they need.” . “
Some environmentalists have welcomed the report proposal in hopes of revealing new and surprising uses for PFAS. “But it will be a snapshot,” said Sonya Lander, senior toxics policy adviser at the Sierra Club.
Lander said even if PFAS were found in, say, a brand of baby bib, pesticide container, or pet food bag, it’s not clear which federal agency would regulate the product. He said Americans should ask Congress to add PFASs and other toxic chemicals to all major environmental laws on water, air, food and consumer products.
And another concern is that even if the data goes mainstream, many consumers will simply ignore it, much like they do for California’s many cancer warning signs. Huh? Lander doesn’t think so. “The audience is scientists, regulators, and for better or worse, tort lawyers.”
The environmental working group’s Benes said the disclosure could be more extensive and could “encourage consumers to seek more market changes”.
KFF Health NewsFormerly known as Kaiser Health News (KHN), it is a national news editorial office that produces in-depth journalism on health issues and is one of its core operating programs on health issues. KFFMore — An independent source for health policy research, polls and journalism.
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