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PFAS Bill Passes Major Milestone in US Congress

Posted on 8/2/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

On July 21, Congress reached a major milestone on environmental mandates for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The US House of Representatives passed H.R.2467 PFAS Action Act of 2021 by a vote of 241 to 183. The bill is currently under review by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.   

Representative Debbie Dingell introduced H.R.2467 PFAS Action Act of 2021 to the House of Representatives back in April of 2021. The bill establishes requirements and incentives to limit the use of PFAS and remediate the toxic chemicals already present in the environment.

If the bill passes in the Senate, it will be presented to President Biden for his signature and become law.

PFAS are man-made chemicals with a litany of possible human health concerns. A variety of products contain PFAS, ranging from nonstick cookware to carpet and rug products. Many states have introduced similar legislation to restrict PFAS in consumer products and food packaging, including Maine, Vermont, and Washington.
 

What Does the Bill Cover?

According to Congress.gov, the bill establishes five broad mandates. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must:
 
  1. Designate the PFAS perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), thereby requiring remediation of releases of those PFAS into the environment, and
Within five years of enactment of the law, decide whether the remaining PFAS should be designated as hazardous substances.
 
  1. Establish whether PFAS should be designated as toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act. If PFAS are designated as toxic, then EPA must establish standards to limit discharges of PFAS from industrial sources into waters of the United States.
In addition, EPA must issue national primary drinking water regulations for PFAS that, at a minimum, include standards for PFOA and PFOS by amending Section 1412(b) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300g–1(b)).
 
  1. Issue a final rule adding PFOA and PFOS to the list of hazardous air pollutants.
  2. Test all PFAS for toxicity to human health.
  3. Regulate the disposal of materials containing PFAS.

Additional miscellaneous provisions are stipulated in the bill as well.

For example, EPA, in consultation with the head of the US Fire Administration, FAA, and other relevant Federal departments, and representatives of State and local building and fire code enforcement jurisdictions, must issue guidance on minimizing the use of, or contact with, firefighting foam and other related equipment containing PFAS. The purpose is to minimize the risk to firefighters, police officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders and the environment.

Finally, the bill will award grants to affected community water systems to pay for capital costs associated with the implementation of eligible treatment technologies.
 

Convenient, Effective Online EHS Manager Training

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The Complete Environmental Regulations online course will prepare you to identify your site's liabilities and responsibilities under major environmental laws and regulations. This course is ideal for new EHS managers, environmental consultants, and anyone who wants clarity about how complex environmental requirements fit together. 

Or check out these courses on specific EPA programs:
 
Clean Air Act Regulations Online
TSCA Regulations Online
Clean Water Act & SDWA Regulations Online
Superfund and Right-to-Know Act Regulations Online 

 

Tags: environmental compliance, EPA, PFAS

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