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Saturday, February 17, 2024

EPA named 9 new ‘eternally chemical substances’ it desires out of provide chains

The Environmental Safety Company (EPA) just lately proposed including 9 “eternally chemical substances” to its checklist of hazardous constituents beneath the Useful resource Conservation and Restoration Act (RCRA). To qualify for the checklist, chemical substances will need to have confirmed “poisonous, carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic results on human life or different life types,” based on the EPA’s web site.

The chemical substances are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a category used to make heat-, oil- and grease-resistant merchandise. Present in additional than 12,000 types, PFAS might be discovered on every thing from menstrual merchandise to mattress pads to wall paint. PFAS are additionally an environmental menace as a result of they don’t break down, can transfer via soils and groundwater, and accumulate in wildlife, finally working their manner up the meals chain into people.

Producers who use PFAS had been unsurprised by the EPA’s announcement, based on Kent Sorenson, chief know-how officer at Allonnia, a bioremediation firm.

“The document rule was positively anticipated,” mentioned Sorenson, “extremely anticipated within the market each when it comes to those that are cleansing up contaminated websites and coping with the waste, but in addition from the customers of these compounds that mainly personal that legal responsibility.” 

However whereas the rule was anticipated, the particular chemical substances chosen had been unknown, inflicting backlogs on the bottom.

“To some extent, [the unknown chemicals] had been holding up website cleanups and evaluations, as a result of it’s onerous to do a correct analysis if you don’t know for positive which PFAS compounds are going to be thought-about hazardous constituents,” mentioned Sorenson.

One other vital a part of the announcement was the authority granted to each the EPA and the states to mandate chemical cleanup sooner or later.

“Due to robust partnerships with our co-regulators within the states, we’ll strengthen our potential to wash up contamination from PFAS, maintain polluters accountable and advance public well being protections,” mentioned EPA administrator Michael Regan, in an announcement.

Not everybody agrees with the EPA’s choice. “Grouping chemical substances, together with PFAS, into broad classes and creating one-size-fits-all insurance policies is inefficient, expensive and ineffective in reaching the supposed environmental objectives,” mentioned Robert Helminiak, vice chairman of authorized and authorities relations on the Society of Chemical Producers & Associates, in an electronic mail to GreenBiz.

Helminiak pressured that the EPA’s ruling is “stopping crucial chemistries that … have internet optimistic environmental impacts from coming to market.”

Individually, a brand new rule added to the Poisonous Substance Management Act (TSCA) in October requires new recordkeeping and reporting for producers and importers of merchandise containing PFAS. It mandates corporations report PFAS makes use of, manufacturing quantity, disposal, hazards and environmental results in merchandise that had been bought commercially from 2011 onwards. The official language lists the industries almost certainly affected by this replace, together with building, manufacturing, wholesale commerce, retail commerce and waste administration and remediation providers.

Allonnia’s Sorenson envisions this might create new financial alternatives resulting from corporations’ sudden must entry this info. At present, nobody is filling that want, he mentioned.

“Producers are searching for assist from folks to guage [the reporting process], and that’s an entire new market that has now opened up,” mentioned Sorenson.

Firms that know or suspect they are going to be affected by the TSCA and RCRA rulings are suggested to behave rapidly to attenuate potential legal responsibility. In a commentary piece for Reuters, Miles Scully, a associate at Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani LLP, recommended companies to scrutinize their provide chains for PFAS, overview contracts for language concerning PFAS, and look into PFAS alternate options.

Sorenson suggested corporations to put money into nascent however rising applied sciences that may sort out PFAS removing. He touted Allonnia’s floor lively foam fractionation (SAFF) system as “essentially the most sustainable and sturdy know-how” commercially accessible. SAFF leverages air bubbles to separate PFAS from water in small volumes, enabling the hazardous chemical to be retrieved and destroyed.


Correction: In a earlier model, Allonnia was misspelled. 

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