Forever Chemicals: EPA to Increase PFAS Reporting Requirements in 2022
In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that reporting will soon be required from those who manufacture per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.” As of 2022, many of these new reporting rules will begin to take effect.
Under increased public pressure for accountability related to PFAS contamination, the EPA released a PFAS Strategic Roadmap to help increase PFAS research, restrict pollution, and remediate areas affected by these toxic substances. Lawsuits related to forever chemicals contamination are on the rise, with plaintiffs claiming that exposure to the toxins led to a cancer diagnosis for themselves or a loved one.
What Are PFAS?
PFAS is an umbrella term for a manufactured chemical that is known for its resistance to heat, water, and grease, among other uses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, firefighters and the U.S. military rely on aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) for fire extinguishing purposes, and AFFF contains PFAS. The substances can also be found as a byproduct of industrial processes.
While these chemicals have been used in a broad range of consumer and commercial products for decades, concerns about PFAS exposure are increasing. The National Cancer Institute reports that long-term exposure to the toxins—typically through residential exposure, use of products made with PFAS, occupational exposure, or other means—can cause certain types of cancer and other serious health problems.
How the EPA Plans to Address PFAS Contamination
Public concerns about PFAS are pushing governmental institutions and companies to be more responsible about the manufacturing, handling, and remediation of these toxins. In its PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024, the organization acknowledges that many chemicals are not restricted under law according to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
However, the EPA aims to address some of these limitations of restrictions in its roadmap, creating a timetable for addressing PFAS contamination in American communities.
Some highlights of the plan that will take effect in 2022 include:
- Recategorizing PFAS as “Chemicals of Special Concern”
- Expanding reporting for PFAS chemicals under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)
- Collecting information from PFAS manufacturers regarding any PFAS produced since 2011, such as how the substances were used, where they were exposed, how much was produced, and where they were disposed
- Including PFOS and PFOAs—two forms of PFAS—in the list of water contaminants regulated by the EPA
- Increasing restrictions on PFAS discharges from industrial sources
Advocacy Groups Claim the EPA’s Efforts Are Not Enough
As the EPA increases reporting and monitoring requirements for these substances, it seeks to better understand where PFAS exist and what restrictions are required.
However, even as the organization acknowledges the need for increased action related to PFAS contamination, it is facing pressure from advocacy groups that claim the EPA’s efforts are not enough. For example, a petition brought by six environmental and public health groups in North Carolina pushed the EPA to require health studies on 54 types of chemicals produced by a regional PFAS manufacturer, the Chemours Company.
In response, the EPA notes that it will require reporting and provide funding for studies on 24 PFAS (Reuters).
Legal Help Is Available if You Were Harmed by Forever Chemicals
If you face health complications from exposure to PFAS or other toxins, you could seek legal help and bring a case against a negligent manufacturer. Fill out our contact form to connect with a law firm in our network.