As a follow-up to our Top EHS Trends for 2023 webinar, RegScan is taking a closer look at some of the activities shaping the EHS compliance and sustainability space this coming year. This blog post will focus on a top EHS trend for 2023: more PFAS regulations.
PFAS continued to be a hot topic in 2022 as the persistent forever chemicals saw stricter federal and state regulations. Most notably at the federal level, the Department of Energy (DOE) released their strategic roadmap which has 4 objectives:
- Understand: Develop information concerning PFAS uses and environmental releases to characterize and assess the Department’s potential liabilities and risks.
- Manage and Protect: Safeguard the health and well-being of DOE’s employees, the public, and the environment by minimizing exposure to PFAS and addressing PFAS releases.
- Advance Solutions: Leverage expertise at DOE’s National Laboratories and collaborate with research partners to enhance PFAS knowledge and develop technological solutions.
- Communicate and Collaborate: Engage with regulators, Tribal nations, local communities, and stakeholders to ensure transparency on DOE’s PFAS progress and develop effective PFAS strategies.
Also included in this roadmap are plans for testing PFAS at all DOE-owned water systems and providing alternative drinking water supplies to DOE sites where PFAS is detected at concentrations exceeding federal or state regulatory limits.
The Biden administration intends to continue regulating PFAS throughout 2023. The areas expected to see the most regulation are in drinking water and waste management. The EPA is developing a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The main objective is to establish legally enforceable maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) and treatment techniques that apply to public water systems (PWSs). The EPA plans to address this issue by the end of 2023.
Regarding waste management we’re expecting to see the regulation of PFAS placed under CERCLA this year. The EPA is proposing to designate two PFAS chemicals – the first being perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and the second, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) –as hazardous substances under CERCLA. This proposed rulemaking would increase the transparency around the releases of these chemicals while also helping to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination. RegScan also tracked updates within individual states when it came to regulations on PFAS:
- Maine became the first state to prohibit the sale of products containing intentionally added PFAS. The law includes a phase-out plan where new products containing PFAS cannot be sold as of January 1st, 2030. Going forward, the presence of PFAS chemicals in any product must be reported to the Maine Department of Environmental Quality starting in January 2023.
- New Jersey recently introduced legislation that would prohibit the sale of certain products—including food packaging—containing intentionally added PFAS. The bill is currently being considered by state legislature, but it also includes plans to require written notification of products for sale in Maine that contain intentionally added PFAS one year after the Act’s effective date once it’s passed. This legislation also includes a labeling requirement for PFAS in cookware that would come into effect two years after the Act’s potential effective date. It is possible that we could see civil administrative penalties imposed for each violation of this regulation once in effect.
- Pennsylvania introduced a couple of bills that would ban the manufacture, distribution, or sale of food packaging containing PFAS in any amount. The goal is for it to become effective by the beginning of 2024.
Moving forward, companies need to be aware that stricter regulations for these forever chemicals are here with more to come.