EPA Grants Petition to Regulate PFAS Found in Plastic Containers

The federal agency will start a rulemaking process to address toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in more than 100 million fluorinated plastic containers


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would start the process to regulate toxic PFAS (per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) found in plastic containers. This decision follows a petition filed by a coalition of environmental and health advocates, urging the EPA to address the severe risks these chemicals pose to consumers, workers, and the environment.

The coalition, represented by Earthjustice, and alongside two other organizations, filed a petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), seeking regulation of three PFAS — PFOA, PFNA, and PFDA — created during the fluorination process used to enhance the barrier properties of plastic containers. The petition highlighted the dangers of PFAS leaching from fluorinated plastic containers into household products.

“Today marks another important step to protecting public health from harmful PFAS,” said Earthjustice Attorney Kelly Lester. “EPA has recognized the unreasonable risks posed by PFAS produced during plastic fluorination, and its commitment to pursue needed regulation of these toxic substances is a step forward. EPA must now act swiftly to regulate these PFAS and protect communities from the devastating health harms associated with PFAS exposure.”

PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” are toxic chemicals that persist in the environment, and many PFAS accumulate in the human body. PFAS can lead to a range of adverse health effects even at low levels of exposure. The regulation of these chemicals is crucial to mitigating their impact on public health and the environment.

EPA previously ordered Inhance Technologies LLC, a major manufacturer of fluorinated plastic containers, to cease the production of PFAS during the fluorination process. However, these orders were challenged in court, and a court ruled that the EPA lacked authority under Section 5 of TSCA to regulate PFAS production as a “new” use. The coalition’s petition, however, successfully argued for regulation under Section 6 of TSCA, which addresses existing uses of chemicals.

Earthjustice represents Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Clean Cape Fear, Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper, and Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water. The Center for Environmental Health and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, represented separately, also joined the petition.

Quotes from our clients

“We are excited to see EPA is pursuing action to keep PFAS chemicals out of our environment,” said National Campaigns Director at Clean Water Action Lynn Thorp. “Regulating these substances is essential to safeguarding our consumer products and reducing the burden on our communities, and EPA must do so soon. This is an important step toward protecting public health.”

“This is great news,” said Co-Founder of Clean Cape Fear Emily Donovan. “Communities deserve an EPA willing to protect public health from these toxic forever chemicals. This action is another step in the right direction. We encourage the EPA to quickly regulate PFAS as a class, stop approving new uses, and incentivize Green Chemistry alternatives.”

“This decision by EPA is a huge win for our mission to ensure safe and clean water for all,” said Co-Founder of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water Laurene Allen. “We are pleased that EPA has committed to taking action to combat PFAS contamination. Together, our voices have been heard, and this is an important step forward in protecting our communities from these dangerous chemicals.”

“EPA’s decision is a critical move that will help safeguard our environment and public health,” said Deputy Director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network Tracy Carluccio. “We are delighted that EPA is taking this issue seriously, and we urge EPA to act quickly to prevent these toxic chemicals from saturating our world. This decision advances our fight for a cleaner, safer future.”

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