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Plastic Container Manufacturing Process May Create PFAS

Posted on 4/4/2022 by Lauren Scott

Last month, US EPA penned an open letter addressed to stakeholders who manufacture, process, distribute, use, or dispose of fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers and similar plastics (i.e., fluorinated polyolefins).

EPA has found that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may form as a byproduct during the manufacturing process and later contaminate the environment. 

The letter reminds stakeholders that these byproducts are not exempt from the TSCA Significant New Use Reporting requirements for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) at 40 CFR 721.10536.

Manufacturers must notify EPA of any PFAS byproduct generated via a Significant New Use Notice (SNUN). The SNUN allows EPA to assess the potential risks of this use under TSCA section 5 and determine whether the use should continue (under which conditions as necessary).

Normally performed to protect containers from weathering degradation, certain fluorination processes may run a higher risk of generating PFAS. EPA has found that fluorination using fluorine gas with an inert gas could reduce the potential for inadvertent PFAS manufacture.

TSCA Enforcement Alert: Unlisted PFAS in Ski Wax Products

Earlier this year, US EPA released an enforcement alert after identifying several ski wax products sold in the US that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are not listed on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory. The alert follows enforcement actions in which two ski product distributors allegedly imported PFAS-containing ski waxes in violation of TSCA.

The Agency published the notice to remind ski wax sellers to ensure that the products they sell do not contain PFAS that are not on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory or have prohibitions on their use in sporting goods.

EPA recommends reviewing the product's Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or contacting a manufacturer or supplier for details about chemical identity information. Manufacturers and importers may also contact EPA's TSCA Hotline with additional questions about compliance.

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Tags: environmental compliance, PFAS, TSCA

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