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EPA seeks public input on draft toxicity assessments for PFAS chemicals

EPA’s draft assessments follow through on EPA’s commitment to provide tools for states, tribes, and local communities to help protect public health

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WASHINGTON  — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public input on draft toxicity assessments for GenX chemicals and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), members of a larger group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a wide range of products because of their ability to repel water, grease, and oil. Today’s draft assessments are part of EPA’s efforts to increase the amount of research and information that is publicly available on chemicals in the PFAS family.

“EPA is delivering on its commitment to provide our state and local partners the tools and information they need to address PFAS,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The draft toxicity assessments are part of our forthcoming management plan, but we are releasing the draft assessments now to provide this information – and give the public the opportunity to provide input – as soon as possible. These draft toxicity assessments reflect the best available science, as well as our extensive community engagement, and are critical to our efforts to help communities impacted by PFAS.”

EPA is continuing to work to develop a PFAS Management Plan that will outline the agency’s approach to addressing the PFAS challenge. The agency is working to release the plan as soon as possible. While the draft toxicity assessments are part of the management plan, the agency is releasing them now to ensure that communities across the country have access to this information as soon as it is available. Once final, states, tribes, and communities can use the information the agency is providing to assess risks, which will help them develop risk management plans and protect their residents.

To develop these draft toxicity assessments, the agency relied on the best available science, including input from independent peer reviewers. The agency also engaged with federal and state partners throughout the development of the draft assessments. EPA will continue working closely with all of our partners as the agency works to consider public input and revise these assessments. When issued, these toxicity assessments may be used by federal partners, states, tribes, and local communities, along with specific exposure and other relevant information to determine, under the appropriate regulations and statutes, if and when it is necessary to take action to address potential risk associated with human exposures to these PFAS chemicals.

EPA will accept public comments on the GenX chemicals and PFBS draft toxicity assessments for 60 days after they are published in the Federal Register. EPA will then consider the public comments, revise the documents, and consider the need for additional review, as appropriate.

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A toxicity assessment is a written summary of the potential health effects associated with a chemical and identifies the levels at which those health effects may occur. EPA’s draft assessments, once issued, will help states, tribes, and local communities understand the toxicity associated with GenX chemicals and PFBS. Toxicity, however, is only one piece of information that public officials consider when determining whether there is a risk to public health. Other factors, such as exposure, must also be considered. Toxicity information, when combined with specific information on potential exposures could be used by state, tribal, and local partners to help characterize the public health risks of these chemicals, which completes the risk assessment process. Public officials can then work to identify what actions are appropriate to address these potential public health risks. It is through this process that supporting science, as well as statutory and other legal considerations, risk management options, public health considerations, cost/benefit considerations, economic factors, social factors, and other considerations are weighed.