The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final ruling on the safe use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) recently. It prohibits companies from bringing products containing long-chain PFAS in surface coatings to market in the U.S. without regulatory review and approval.
The ruling was issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and includes review standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two of the most commonly-used acids within the substance grouping. It prohibits companies from manufacturing, processing, or importing products that contain PFAS in a use case that could harm the environment or have negative impacts on human health, unless they have explicit review and approval from the EPA.
Learn how to quickly acquire PFAS substance data from your supply chain with Assent’s Reporting & Data Solution.
Navigating the PFAS Action Plan
The final ruling was issued as part of the PFAS Action Plan. Passed in February 2019, the plan brings multiple U.S. agencies together to identify and regulate the substance grouping’s harmful use cases. Although the substances can occur in a broad range of product types, it generally impacts companies that manufacture products within the following categories:
- Ski wax
- Carpeting and upholstery
- Household appliances
Any products within these categories that contain certain PFAS chemicals (including PFOS and PFOA) can no longer be manufactured, imported, produced, or sold in the U.S. without explicit testing, review, and approval to identify and address any associated risks.
The program introduces a broad range of short and long-term solutions, providing companies with media, research, and risk communication to better understand, identify, and manage negative use cases. In addition to the supplemental proposal to regulate long-chain PFAS in surface coatings (to which this final ruling applies), the EPA has issued:
- Preliminary determinations to regulate PFAS in drinking water.
- Validated methods for accurate testing.
- Guidance on addressing groundwater contaminants.
- $4.8 million USD to fund new research on the use of PFAS in agriculture.
- A notice to engage the public to comment on the inclusion of PFAS in the Toxics Release Inventory.
The final ruling on long-chain PFAS in surface coatings marks the latest in this long string of initiatives.
What This Means for Your Company
This ruling has a broad impact on global electronics and appliance manufacturers. In the past, companies shipping into California or the European Union (EU) may have acquired some PFAS data to meet requirements driven by the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and by other state and regional market access regulations, such as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation, the European Union (EU) POPs Recast Regulation, and the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65).
However, the regulations above either limit usage to a safe threshold, or create the requirement to include warning labeling with the products. Only companies with full transparency into their product composition will be able to quickly evaluate their supply chain for any parts that contain PFAS and secure approval in a timely fashion.
Evaluate your risk under any hazardous substance requirement by acquiring full materials disclosures for each product you place on the market.
Companies placing products on the EU market have an additional imperative to acquire data on PFAS. The EU POPs Recast Regulation is one of the 70 market access requirements targeted by EU enforcement officials in the EU Market Surveillance Regulation. In addition to the creation of a centralized enforcement database, the regulation gives EU enforcement officials the ability to share information across the full regulatory spectrum for any articles placed on the EU market.
The Assent Compliance Platform can help you acquire the data you need to determine which of your products are in scope of the EPA’s final ruling on long-chain PFAS in surface coatings. We also have the regulatory expertise to help you keep pace with broad regulatory priorities as they expand and mature under such legislation.
For more information, contact our experts today.