State and federal agencies are ramping up their monitoring and regulation of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Commonly known as “forever chemicals” PFAS are substances both used and coincidentally manufactured through industrial processes. They are also present in common consumer and industrial products, ranging from adhesives to firefighting foam. In the coming year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) are planning to make key changes to regulations and current monitoring standards
Targeted Industrial Processes
Though PFAS can be found ubiquitously throughout industry, the following processes are known to currently or historically have used PFAS:
- Application of fluoropolymer coatings in manufacturing
- Production of plastics/polymers
- Application of oil and water repellent finishes/coatings
- Firefighting and fire prevention activities using certain foams
— Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) for class B fires
- Mist suppression in metal plating operations
— Including hexavalent chromium in chrome plating industries
- Photo microlithography process to produce semiconductors
- Photography and film production and processing
PFAS in common products used in industry
As noted above, the following products have been found to contain PFAS when tracking down the source of PFAS within a facility.
- PFPE Lubricants
- Paints, varnishes, and sealants
- Stain and/or water-resistant coatings
- Surface cleaning – Hydrofluoroethers (HFEs)
— Popular products include HFE 7100 and HFE 7500
- Aviation hydraulic fluids
Key Regulatory Changes Impacting Industry
EPA and MassDEP will focus on PFAS in a multimedia approach, including reporting emissions from facilities, monitoring in wastewater, tracking as pollutants, and searching for alternatives to PFAS . Please note the following regulatory changes that are underway:
EPA TRI Reporting
- EPA added 7 new chemicals to the PFAS Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list
- EPA list of PFAS now includes 180 substances listed by CAS number
- The current de minimis level for PFAS additions is 1%, with Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (CAS number: 335-67-1) at 0.1% but is subject to change
- In addition, EPA intends to propose a rulemaking in late 2022 to categorize the PFAS on the TRI list as “Chemicals of Special Concern” with the intent to remove the de minimis eligibility from supplier notification requirements for all “Chemicals of Special Concern”.
- The 180 EPA listed PFAS chemicals are reportable as individual chemicals at 100 pounds for manufactured/processed and otherwise used
- Tracking of additional 7 PFAS chemicals started January 2022, with TRI reports due for RY2023 on July 1, 2023
MassDEP TURA Reporting
MassDEP now tracks Certain PFAS not otherwise listed (Certain PFAS NOL) as a new category for Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) reporting
- Companies covered under TURA were required to track Certain PFAS NOL usage starting January 1, 2022.
- Since Certain PFAS NOL are reportable as a new category, companies that use more than one of the chemicals that fall under this category only need to report the total amount used rather than a total for each chemical.
- A single per-chemical fee will be charged for this category
- Certain PFAS NOL are reportable at the standard TURA thresholds of 25,000 pounds manufactured/processed or 10,000 pounds otherwise used.
- Under TURA, the existing EPA TRI PFAS have a threshold of 100 pounds per CAS number, (de minimis exception applies)
- The first TURA reports for the new Certain PFAS NOL category are due on July 1, 2023
- New monitoring requirements to be set in place for facilities where PFAS are suspected or expected.
— The EPA recently put out a new analytical method 1633 that covers 40 unique PFAS
- A new proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to regulate Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) is currently being developed by the EPA
— The EPA anticipates finalizing the regulation in Fall of 2023 after receiving public comments on the proposal
- Extensive effluent monitoring will be added to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) plan, to inform which industrial categories the EPA will need to restrict PFAS in wastewater discharges.
- By Fall 2023, the EPA will evaluate mitigation options, which includes listing certain PFAS as hazardous air pollutants.
How Can Your Company Stay Ahead of these PFAS Requirements?
There are simple steps you can take to check if a material or product contains PFAS. You can start with examining the safety data sheet (SDS) list of constituents. Keywords to look for are “fluor-,” “PFxx-,” “fluorinated.” However, it is no longer feasible and is somewhat risky to keep track of constituents by relying on spreadsheets with the growing list of emergent chemicals such as PFAS.EHS professionals from many different industries have historically relied on many disparate systems for data collection and tracking of information related to regulatory requirements. The EHS-DashboardTM developed by Capaccio provides a “single source, scalable solution to the overarching challenges that organizations and their EHS teams and programs of all sizes face in 2023 and beyond.” As covered in our whitepaper “How Capaccio’s Targeted Software & Strategic Support Fosters Real World Growth Across EHS Teams and Systems” not all data management systems are created equally, and that is why it is critical for a company to use software such as EHS-Dashboard™, that has the flexibility to track and respond to shifting compliance goals and benchmarks in real time while also allowing for the ability to develop, track, and complete succinct objectives and key results (OKRs) that are directly tied to not only the regulation of PFAS, but their overall business goals as well.
EPA (2022). PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024. PFOA, PFOS and Other PFAS, epa.gov. https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-10/pfas-roadmap_final-508.pdf
Mass.gov. (2022). Interim Guidance on Sampling and Analysis for PFAS at Disposal Sites Regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) mass.gov. https://www.mass.gov/doc/interim-guidance-on-sampling-and-analysis-for-pfas-at-disposal-sites-regulated-under-the-massachusetts-contingency-plan-june-2022/download
Mass.gov. (2022). PFAS Tracking and Reporting Updates. Mass.gov. https://www.mass.gov/news/pfas-tracking-and-reporting-updates
Tenney, Heather and Caredwen Foly (2021). Proposed PFAS NOL Listing: What you need to know. PER- AND POLY-FLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES (PFAS) presentation and webinar. https://www.turi.org/content/download/13716/218164/file/ProposedPFASListing.Tenney.11.2021.pdf/(is_direct_download)/1