The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new measures to safeguard communities and the environment from the health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are persistent chemicals with slow breakdown rates, commonly used in various consumer, commercial, and industrial products. The EPA is proposing two rules to enhance its comprehensive strategy against PFAS pollution.

The proposed rules aim to strengthen the EPA’s ability to address PFAS contamination, hold polluters accountable, and advance public health protections in collaboration with state co-regulators. Moreover, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan emphasized the agency’s dedication to addressing harmful chemicals and emerging contaminants.

EPA Defines PFAS as Hazardous Waste

The current regulations lack clarity about the full authorities granted to EPA by Congress. Therefore, the first proposed modification redefines hazardous waste for cleanups at permitted hazardous waste facilities. This change ensures that EPA’s regulations explicitly reflect the authority to require cleanup of a broad range of substances. This includes chemicals like PFAS, under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

EPA Adds Multiple PFAS Compounds as Hazardous Constituents

The second proposed rule seeks to amend RCRA regulations by adding multiple PFAS compounds as hazardous constituents. These PFAS would be included in the list of substances for consideration in facility assessments, guiding further investigation and cleanup through the corrective action process at hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.

Why Did the EPA Make These Changes to RCRA?

These proposals are designed to enhance protections for communities and drinking water supplies near the 1,740 permitted hazardous waste facilities nationwide. Corrective action under RCRA mandates facilities to investigate and clean up hazardous releases into soil, groundwater, surface water, and air, ensuring environmental justice and addressing disparities in access to a clean environment. Moreover, scientific studies have linked PFAS exposure to adverse health effects. These include:

Where To Find EPA PFAS Rules

The EPA will publish these proposals in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, opening them for public comment for 30 and 60 days, respectively. These measures stand for a critical step in the EPA’s commitment to environmental justice and public health.

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