EPA Finalizes PFAS 'New Use' Rule

 EPA Finalizes PFAS 'New Use' Rule
This month’s edition of Breaking Down PFAS provides updates on EPA's latest rule governing long-chain PFAS use in manu­fac­tur­ing.
Under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Protection Agency (EPA) has released a final rule barring companies from manu­fac­tur­ing, processing or importing consumer products that represent “significant new uses” of a set of PFAS compounds, unless specif­i­cally approved by the agency. The significant new use rule (SNUR) requires anyone using the targeted PFAS in their products to notify EPA 90 days prior to manu­fac­tur­ing or importing.

"EPA is concerned that commence­ment of the manufacture or processing for any new uses of [the specified PFAS] could increase the magnitude and duration of exposure to humans and the environment," reads an excerpt from the official EPA ruling.

The recently published SNUR lists several commercial industries that could be affected by the change, including (but not limited to):

  • Manu­fac­tur­ers of one ore more of the subject chemical substances (e.g., chemical manu­fac­tur­ing and petroleum refineries) 
  • Computer and other electronic products, appliances and components
  • Fiber, yarn and thread mills
  • Carpet and rug mills
  • Home furnishing merchant wholesalers
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaning services 
  • Manu­fac­tur­ers of computer and other electronic products, appliances and components
  • Manu­fac­tur­ers of surgical and medical instruments
  • Merchant wholesalers
  • Stores and retailers

EPA teased this latest SNUR, scheduled to take effect on September 24, 2020 in its 2019 PFAS Action Plan, in which it referred to a proposed phaseout of certain long-chain PFAS. The TSCA—legislation allowing EPA to serve as "gatekeeper" to manage human and envi­ron­men­tal risks from chemicals in the marketplace—states that in order for EPA to designate a "significant new use" for specified long-chain PFAS, it must consider factors like projected volume, exposure levels and fate and transport, including disposal.

Next month in Breaking Down PFAS, we'll explore another significant source of suspected PFAS cont­a­m­i­na­tion: landfill leachate. 

Charles Schaefer Charles Schaefer
The future of PFAS is about options: optimizing upstream treatment technology, reducing downstream waste generation, and destroying PFAS.
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