Inside EPA’s Roadmap on Regulating PFAS Chemicals
PFAS are a class of thousands of manufactured chemical compounds that are dangerous even at minimum exposure.
PFAS are found in air, water, and soil and can persist in humans and in the environment for decades. PFAS are present in many everyday products like waterproof jackets, food packaging, nonstick pans, and personal care products.
In 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a roadmap listing how it would curtail PFAS contamination in the United States. Earthjustice is tracking EPA’s promised actions as it pushes the agency to strongly regulate these dangerous chemicals.
The EPA must move faster and expand regulations to stop the approval of new PFAS chemicals, prevent pollution at the source, keep PFAS out of all environmental media, and ensure polluters pay for cleanup. This requires expeditious rulemakings and implementing the strongest possible protections.
Key commitments missing from EPA’s PFAS roadmap, include:
- Ending approval of new PFAS chemicals through the pre-manufacture notice (PMN) process and the full set of regulatory exemptions.
- Adopting a moratorium on incineration, at least until EPA has determined if there are safe protocols for incineration and if so, until EPA has codified those protocols into binding regulations.
- Regulating emissions of PFAS into air.
- Regulating discharges of PFAS into water from all industrial sources.
- Regulating PFAS as a class in all of EPA’s work.
Earthjustice is working to end PFAS pollution and remove toxic chemicals from our daily lives by fighting in court, working with Congress, and working with communities across the country.
See a summary and current status of EPA’s PFAS roadmap:
Alejandro Dávila Fragoso, National Communications Strategist, Earthjustice
firstname.lastname@example.org, (760) 595-3518
About the EPA Offices
- OAR = Office of Air and Radiation is charged with developing national programs, policies, and regulations for controlling air pollution and radiation exposure.
- OCSPP = Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention is responsible for protecting people and the environment from potential risks from pesticides and toxic chemicals.
- OLEM = Office of Land and Emergency Management is responsible for providing policy, guidance, and direction for the EPA's emergency response and waste programs.
- ORD = Office of Research and Development is the scientific research arm of the EPA.
- OW = Office of Water is charged with ensuring drinking water is safe, and restoring and maintaining oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, supporting economic and recreational activities, and providing healthy habitat for fish, plants, and wildlife.
- CERCLA = The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund, imposes financial liability on parties responsible, including partially responsible, for the presence of hazardous substances at a site.
- CWA = The Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.
- ELG = Effluent limitation guidelines are national wastewater discharge standards that are developed by the EPA.
- HAPs = Hazardous air pollutants are those known to cause cancer and other serious health impacts.
- IRIS = The Integrated Risk Information System identifies and characterizes the health hazards of chemicals found in the environment.
- NEJAC = The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council is a federal advisory committee to EPA, providing advice and recommendations about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice.
- NPDES = The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program addresses water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States.
- PFAS = Shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Chemicals in this class of more than 5,000 substances are found in products such as nonstick pans (e.g. “Teflon”), firefighting foam, make-up and other personal care products, food packaging, waterproof jackets, and more.
- PFOA = Perfluorooctanoic acid. Part of the larger group of chemicals referred to as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance). See CDC factsheet.
- PFOS = Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. Part of the larger group of chemicals referred to as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance).
- RCRA = The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act creates the framework for the management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.
- SDWA = The Safe Drinking Water Act was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the United States. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources.
- SNUR = TSCA Section 5(a) Significant New Use Rules can be used to require notice to EPA before chemical substances and mixtures are used in new ways that might create concerns.
- TRI = The Toxics Release Inventory is a publicly available database developed under EPA’s authority that contains information about the manufacture, use, disposal, and release of listed chemicals, based on reports filed by industrial and federal facilities.
- TSCA = The Toxic Substances Control Act requires EPA to assess the safety of new chemicals before they can enter commerce, and to ensure that chemicals already in commerce do not present unreasonable risk to humans or the environment, with a particular focus on highly exposed and susceptible populations, as a result of their manufacture, processing, distribution, use or disposal, or any combination of those activities.
- UCMR = The Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule is issued by EPA every five years and requires large public water systems to monitor drinking water for no more than 30 named substances that are suspected to be present and not regulated under the SDWA.