EPA Introduces Additional Action Items Under Its 2019 PFAS Action Plan

By: Marissa G. Nortz

Published: January 20, 2021

On January 19, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) introduced several new action items to further complement its progress under the 2019 Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (“PFAS”) Action Plan. These action items, introduced just one day prior to President Biden’s inauguration, put EPA one step closer to formal regulation of these substances, and provides PFAS manufacturers, producers, users, and discharges a blueprint of the compliance requirements that will dictate their operations within the coming years.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that are typically produced by industrial and manufacturing operations and used in consumer goods. During production and use, these substances have been found to migrate into soil, water, and air, and are not known to readily breakdown, thus leading to their “forever chemicals” moniker. While a thorough examination of the health effects of these substances is ongoing, EPA has found that exposure to certain PFAS compounds can result in increased cholesterol, impacts to infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption.

With an increased focus on these substances by states and the United States Congress, EPA’s revised actions items seek:

While EPA made substantial progress under its 2019 PFAS Action Plan, these additional action items promise to continue that progress well into President Biden’s term. While it is unclear the level of emphasis the new Administration will place on PFAS, it is apparent that this issue crosses all party lines, and both the states and EPA will continue to push for formal regulation of these forever chemicals.

Manufacturers, producers, users, and dischargers of PFAS must prepare now for the impacts of these regulations. As information on these substances continue to develop, PFAS users must: (1) determine the presence of PFAS in their operations; (2) determine paths of exposure to PFAS from their operations (air, water, waste, consumer use, etc.); and (3) proactively develop their own action plan to address these substances to ensure compliance once formal regulations are implemented.

Steptoe & Johnson continues to monitor both EPA’s PFAS progress and pending litigation surrounding these substances. Should you have questions on how your operations can address PFAS, please reach out to Marissa Nortz.

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