Final Rule: PFOA, PFOS Listed as Superfund Substances

Posted on 5/8/2024 by Roger Marks

Update 05/08/24

A Final Rule published today adds PFOA and PFOS to the list of hazardous substances under CERCLA (aka "Superfund"), each with a reportable quantity (RQ) of 1 pound.  

The rule takes effect July 8, 2024. Read the Final Rule

EPA's addition of PFOS and PFOA as CERCLA hazardous substances—including their salts and structural isomers—has broad and substantial impacts for contaminated site cleanup and chemical release reporting. Key consequences of the rule include:
  • Sites contaminated with PFOA or PFOS may be listed as Superfund sites.
  • Superfund money may be used to clean up sites contaminated with PFOA or PFOS.
  • Releases of PFOA or PFOS may require reporting under CERCLA or other programs.
  • State and Federal authorities may seek damages or cleanup costs from parties responsible for PFOA or PFOS contamination.

PFAS production has been largely phased out in the United States. Some products containing PFAS remain available, though, and PFAS may still be imported into the US for a limited number of uses.

More About PFOA and PFOS:

Final Rule: PFOA, PFOS Listed as Superfund Substances

Other PFAS Regulations and Actions

Adding PFOA and PFOS to the CERCLA hazardous substances is EPA's latest action to address the effects of PFAS on human health and the environment.

Since 2020, EPA has also:

Update 09/06/22 

US EPA published the proposed rule to add PFOA and PFOS to the list of hazardous substances under CERCLA/Superfund to the Federal Register on September 6. 

Public comments will be accepted until November 7, 2022. EPA recommends that comments about the information collection provisions in the proposed rule (e.g., release reporting) be submitted before October 6 to ensure they are considered. 

What Are PFAS?

Sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a group of more than 9,000 synthetic substances commonly found in surface coatings, food packaging, textiles, firefighting foams, and other products. PFAS chemicals are resistant to heat, oils, water, and staining—properties that make them valuable for a variety of industrial and commercial uses, but also contribute to their persistence in the environment.

Release Reporting and RQ

EPA lists PFOA and PFOS with a reportable quantity (RQ) of one pound.

That means if one pound or more of PFOA or PFOS is released at once (or in a combination of releases within a 24-hour period), the facility must make an immediate report to the National Response Center (NRC). If the release could result in exposure to persons outside the boundaries of the facility, it must be reported immediately to potentially affected local and state response organizations.

Learn More: CERCLA and EPCRA Release Reporting

In the September 2022 proposed rule, EPA stated that they may consider revising the RQ in the future, once more information about the size and risks of PFOA or PFOS releases is available.

Hazardous Materials Shipping

CERCLA/Superfund mandates that US DOT regulate all listed “hazardous substances” as hazardous materials in transportation (42 USC §9656).

Appendix A to the 172.101 Hazmat Table lists hazardous substances and their reportable quantities. Once a new hazardous substance is added to the CERCLA list, it also becomes a regulated hazardous material for transportation purposes.  

Learn more: When is "RQ" Required to Ship Hazmat?

Convenient, Effective Online EHS Manager Training

Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business—from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to TSCA, EPCRA, CERCLA, and more—is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to quickly build in-depth expertise.

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. 

Tags: CERCLA, hazardous substances, PFAS, release reporting, TSCA

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