EPA Finalizes Rule to Prevent More Than 300 Inactive PFAS from Reentering Commerce

On January 8, EPA announced a final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that prevents companies from starting or resuming the manufacture or processing of 329 per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have not been made or used since 2006 without a complete EPA review and risk determination. Previously, these “inactive PFAS” may have been used in many industries and possibly released into the environment without review by EPA.

When TSCA was first enacted in 1976, thousands of chemicals were allowed to remain in commerce without additional EPA review. Before 2016, the Agency had no authority to address new chemicals that the Agency determined lacked sufficient information. Due to this, many chemicals, including PFAS, were allowed into commerce without a complete review. The 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act amended TSCA and required EPA to formally review the safety of all new chemicals before they are allowed into commerce, including 329 inactive PFAS. An “inactive” designation means that a chemical has not been manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States since June 21, 2006. Now, if a company wants to use any of these PFAS, it must first notify EPA. Once notified, the Agency is required to review health and safety information to determine if the new use may present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. If deemed necessary, EPA may put restrictions in place before the company can begin using the chemical.