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Long-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) Action Plan Summary

Announcements

October 22, 2013 -- EPA issued a rule requiring companies to report all new uses of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (LCPFAC) and their intent to import carpets containing these substances.  LCPFAC is a category of potentially harmful perflourinated chemical compounds once used on carpets to impart soil, water, and stain resistance. Read the press release. Read more.

What chemicals are addressed in the Action Plan?

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are substances with special properties that have many important manufacturing and industrial applications. The long-chain PFCs comprise two sub-categories: perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFAS) and long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (PFAC). The PFAS sub-category includes perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), other higher homologues, and their salts and precursors. The long-chain PFAC sub-category includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, sometimes called C8), other higher homologues, and their salts and precursors. Some of those potential long-chain PFAC precursors include chemicals known commercially as fluorotelomers.

PFAC chemicals with fewer than eight carbons, such as perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), are not considered long-chain PFAC chemicals. These shorter-chain PFAC chemicals are not part of this action plan because data in non-human primates indicate that they have substantially shorter half-lives in these animals than PFOA and are less toxic than long-chain PFAC chemicals.

Why is EPA concerned about these chemicals?

Long-chain PFCs are found world-wide in the environment, wildlife, and humans. They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, and are persistent in the environment. They are toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife, producing reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in laboratory tests.

To date, significant adverse effects have not been found in the general human population. However, given the long half-life of these chemicals in humans (years), it can reasonably be anticipated that continued exposure could increase body burdens to levels that would result in adverse outcomes.

What action is EPA taking?

Based on EPA’s screening-level review of hazard and exposure information, EPA's action plan called for EPA to:

  1. Consider initiating rulemaking under section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to manage long-chain PFCs. If EPA can make certain findings with respect to these chemicals (further analysis of the information will be performed as part of TSCA section 6 rulemaking), TSCA section 6 provides authority for EPA to ban or restrict the manufacture (including import), processing, and use of these chemicals. A rule addressing the PFAS sub-category could expand the reach of three Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) that the Agency has promulgated over the past decade. For example, the rule could address PFAS-containing articles. A rule addressing the PFAC sub-category could expand the reach of the 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program beyond the eight participating companies and further address the concerns for potential PFAC exposure through the use of PFAC-containing articles. EPA will develop more detailed assessments to support the TSCA section 6(a) "presents or will present an unreasonable risk" findings. If these more detailed assessments indicate that a different approach to risk management is appropriate, EPA will consider additional approaches.
  2. Evaluate the potential for disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations. Given that human biomonitoring data have demonstrated that humans are exposed to PFCs in the womb, during infancy, and during puberty, and that animal studies have shown that the fetus and neonate are sensitive life stages to PFC exposures, EPA will consider effects to the developing fetus and children.

  3. Continue with the 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program to work with companies toward the elimination of long-chain PFCs from emissions and products. EPA will also continue to evaluate alternatives under EPA's New Chemicals Program and collaborate with other countries on managing PFCsexit EPA.

Previous Actions:

Read about the PFOS and PFAS significant new use rules (SNURs).

Read about the 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program.

Read about evaluation of alternatives under EPA's New Chemicals Program.

Read about international collaboration on managing PFCsexit EPA.

Current Actions:

Download the complete Long-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) Action Plan (PDF), (23 pp., 185 KB, About PDF)

Access the public comment docket for the Long-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) Action Plan (Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPPT-2010-0145) on Regulations.gov.

Track the progress of the TSCA Section 6 rulemaking development activity on the EPA's Rulemaking Gateway.

Access the public comment docket for the Proposed Significant New Use Rule on Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonates and Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate Chemical Substances Used as Part of Carpets.


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