EPA’s Newly Announced Plan to Rein in PFAS is Lacking

All loopholes chemical companies can exploit must be closed


Erin Fitzgerald, efitzgerald@earthjustice.org

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized that allowing new PFAS to enter the market without a full pre-manufacture notice (“PMN”) safety review puts the public health and the environment at risk. “PFAS,” which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of thousands of chemicals that are highly resistant to breakdown and can persist in human bodies and in the environment for decades. PFAS are linked to serious health effects, such as cancer, immune system dysfunction, and liver and kidney damage. Yet more PFAS come to market through loopholes to the PMN review process than through the actual process itself.

Though this is a promising first step, EPA must immediately issue policies, followed by rulemaking, preventing use of the low-volume exemption (LVE), Byproducts, Low Release and Exposure, and Polymer Exemptions for PFAS as requested by the 15 organizations in a petition that Earthjustice filed on their behalf today. While industry’s abuse of the truncated LVE path for approval of new PFAS is alarming, PFAS byproducts do not go through any safety review.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice senior attorney Suzanne Novak, who is representing the 15 organizations in their petition:

“While we applaud EPA’s announcement that it ‘expects’ to deny any application for a PFAS to be brought to market through the Low Volume Exemption (LVE), EPA must do much more concerning not only use of the LVE for PFAS, but other loopholes, too. EPA must take immediate and enforceable steps to require full safety reviews of any PFAS, regardless of how or what they are used for. EPA’s policies and regulations allowing PFAS to pollute our environment and threaten our health without a full safety review violates the law and is contrary to its mission. This is why we call on EPA to respond positively and expeditiously to the petition Earthjustice and its clients filed today.”

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