On December 1, 2023, the U.S. EPA ordered Inhance Technologies LLC (Inhance) to stop producing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as part of its fluorination of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers. According to the EPA, Inhance’s fluorination process enhances the barrier properties of plastic containers, but produces nine different types of PFAS.

Fluorinated HDPE containers are used for storing household products, pesticides, and other industrial goods. In 2019, the drinking water of the town Easton, Massachusetts, tested positive for PFOA, a type of PFAS, and was traced back to a mosquitocide used by state officials. In September 2020, the EPA determined that the PFAS found in the mosquitocide emanated from the product’s HDPE plastic container, which was fluorinated by Inhance. EPA later concluded that PFOA and other PFAS chemicals in containers fluorinated by Inhance can migrate into liquid products and continue migrating over time.Continue Reading US EPA Seeks to Eliminate PFAS From HDPE Plastic Containers

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On October 17, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued an Enforcement Advisory Letter indicating that the Attorney General’s office intends to bring enforcement actions against companies that fail to comply with California’s new law restricting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging and requiring disclosure and labeling when PFAS are used in cookware products.

The California law, known as Assembly Bill 1200 (A.B. 1200), went into effect on January 1, 2023. The law prohibits businesses, including shops and restaurants selling take-out food, from distributing, selling, or offering for sale any “food packaging” that contains PFAS. “Food packaging” is broadly defined and includes take-out food containers, unit product boxes, liners, wrappers, serving vessels, eating utensils, straws, food boxes, and disposable plates, bowls, or trays. The law also requires disclosure and labeling when PFAS are intentionally included in any “cookware” product that comes into contact with food or beverages. “Cookware” includes pots, pans, skillets, grills, baking sheets, baking molds, trays, bowls, and cooking utensils.Continue Reading California Attorney General Reinforces Intent to Pursue Enforcement Actions Against Violators of New PFAS Content Law

The EPA released its final reporting and recordkeeping requirements for PFAS, scientifically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) on September 28, 2023. According to EPA, the final rule is the result of a statutory mandate in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which amended TSCA

Over the last several weeks, appellate courts in two states have issued decisions with varying impacts on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulations at the state level. In New Jersey, the New Jersey Appeals Court has upheld the strict PFAS drinking water standards promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in an opinion issued Aug. 3, 2023. In contrast, just yesterday, a Michigan appeals court invalidated the PFAS drinking water standards issued by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).Continue Reading Michigan Court of Appeals Decision Upends State’s Regulation of PFAS in Drinking Water

PFAS generally refers to a family of substances commonly known as “forever chemicals” because the chemicals do not readily break down in the environment and are bio-accumulative. PFAS can be found in many products, including non-stick cookware, cosmetics, and products advertised as waterproof or water resistant. PFAS are also commonly used in the food industry

On October 18, 2021, EPA issued its, “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024.”  This roadmap sets out EPA’s action plan for minimizing the release of PFAS into the environment.  In the Roadmap, EPA emphasizes the need to “get upstream of the problem” and to “hold polluters accountable.” In the field of hazardous waste, there is a well-established mechanism for minimizing the uncontrolled release of contaminants into the environment, specifically, RCRA’s “cradle-to-grave” tracking system. Under this system, generators of solid waste must determine whether their waste is hazardous.  If so, they must fill out a hazardous waste manifest, which tracks waste from the point of generation to a treatment or disposal facility permitted to safely manage the material. Further, once a new waste enters RCRA’s hazardous waste program, it becomes subject to the land disposal restriction program and EPA must set treatment standards for newly listed wastes within 6 months. 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g).  Continue Reading EPA Must List PFAS as a Hazardous Waste or Pass the Baton to Congress to Take Action 

After much anticipation in the environmental community, EPA has announced proposed enforceable drinking water standards for six PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS.

Unlike the agency’s two prior health advisories, these maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), if finalized, will set legally enforceable compliance standards for drinking water. Of interest is that EPA set the new proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS at the practical quantitation level (PQL), defined as the “lowest concentration of a contaminant that can be reliably achieved within specified limits of precision and accuracy during routine laboratory operating conditions.” According to EPA, “EPA has determined that PFOA and PFOS are likely carcinogens (i.e., cancer causing) and that there is no level of these contaminants that is without a risk of adverse health effects. Therefore, EPA is proposing the set the MCL for these two contaminants at four parts per trillion, the lowest feasible level based on the ability to reliably measure and remove these contaminants from drinking water.” Thus, although the proposed enforceable MCLs are higher than EPA’s 2022 Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS, which were set based on health risks, the proposed new MCLs are still set at essentially the instrument detection levels.Continue Reading EPA Proposes New Strategy for Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water