Regulatory Action on PFAS/LCPFAC Compounds
In addition to its activities on PFOA, EPA has been investigating other related perfluorinated compounds, including perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFAS). Studies have found PFAS chemicals in very small amounts in the blood of the general human population as well as in wildlife. Although most of the health and environmental studies have focused primarily on PFOS and PFOA, analysis of the structure of these compounds indicates that the results of those studies may be applied to a larger category of PFAS and long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) chemicals. EPA believes that the chemical similarity between PFOS and PFAS raises the likelihood that health and environmental concerns are present for PFAS, and that LCPFAC compounds may degrade to PFOA.
On August 15 , 2012, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to:
- Require companies to report 90 days in advance of all new uses of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic (LCPFAC) chemicals as part of carpets or to treat carpets, including the import of new carpet containing LCPFACs.
- Add seven perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) chemicals to the existing PFAS SNUR (40 CFR 721.9582), and amend that SNUR to include "processing" in the definition of significant new use for PFAS chemicals.
The purpose of the advance reporting required by a SNUR is to give EPA the opportunity to review and take action, if warranted, to prohibit or limit the activity. This proposed SNUR acts on information from industry that uses of these LCPFAC chemicals in carpets have already been phased out in the United States.
The additional PFAS chemicals identified in the proposed SNUR had been reviewed in the New Chemicals program, but never commenced manufacture or import in the United States. The existing SNUR already defines "manufacture or import for any use" as a significant new use for PFAS chemicals, except in the case of certain ongoing uses specifically excluded from the SNUR for some of the chemicals. This proposed SNUR adds "processing" to that definition.
Comments on the proposed SNUR are due October 15, 2012.
Following the voluntary phase out of PFOS by 3M between 2000 and 2002, EPA took prompt regulatory action on March 11, 2002 and December 9, 2002 by publishing two significant new use rules (SNURs) under TSCA to limit any future manufacture or importation of 88 PFAS chemicals specifically included in that phase out. These SNURs allowed the continuation of a few specifically limited, highly technical uses of these chemicals for which no alternatives were available, and which were characterized by very low volume, low exposure, and low releases. Any other uses of these chemicals would require prior notice to and review by the Agency. Read more information on the first SNUR for 13 chemicals . Read more information on the second SNUR for 75 chemicals.
Subsequently, EPA identified 183 additional PFAS chemicals believed to no longer be manufactured, imported or used in the United States, with the possible exception of the same uses excluded from the earlier SNURs. However, based on comments received during the public comment period and related communications, EPA learned of an ongoing use of seven PFAS chemicals as a component of an etchant used in the plating process to produce electronic devices, and an ongoing use of a PFAS chemical as a fume/mist suppressant in metal finishing and plating baths. Consequently, those uses for those particular chemicals were excluded from the final SNUR. EPA published a Federal Register Notice on October 9, 2007, finalizing the SNUR on these additional chemicals. Read more information on the third SNUR for 183 chemicals.
Read more information on SNURs and related information in the docket:
PFOS SNURs - docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2002-0043
PFAS SNUR - docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2005-0015