EPA Grants Petition to Study The Effects of PFAS on Humans and the Environment

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted a petition to initiate the testing of human health and ecological hazards posed by polyfluoroakyl substances (PFAS). This petition was brought by the Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, Toxic Free NC, and the NC Black Alliance wanted to make companies test this potentially hazardous substance.

According to the EPA’s website, PFAS exposure “may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals,” which may be a cause for concern as it is found in an abundance of household products and is in the water, air and soil. This renewed interest in analyzing these substances comes after an initiative was started by the Biden-Harris Administration to understand PFAS and protect American citizens from its potential risks. In order to properly analyze the effects of these substances, the EPA will “require PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS.” The EPA will exercise its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act Section 4 in order to “require recipients of test orders to conduct and fund the studies.”

While this petition was previously denied under the Trump Administration, it was reconsidered and approved in September 2021, and the National PFAS Testing Strategy was announced in October. This plan “identifies priority substances for the first of several described phases of an iterative testing approach based on grouping of chemicals by chemistry features and available toxicity data,” in order to better understand these substances.

By granting this petition, the EPA will exercise their authority in order to conduct test studies on the lesser known varieties of PFAS, learn more about how they behave in common mixtures, conduct human trials and explore the correct analytical procedures to do so. The EPA will continue to address the spread of PFAS contamination and their actions to stop it in their PFAS Strategic Roadmap.