On July 28, 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a press release announcing the final version of a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for a set of long-chain per- and polyfluroalkyl substances (PFAS). The press release argues that the “final rule strengthens the regulation of PFAS by requiring notice and EPA review before the use of long-chain PFAS that have been phased out in the United States could begin again.” However, an article published by Chemical Watch reports that stakeholders are highly critical of the final rule for unexpectedly omitting previously planned language for the rule to apply to interior-facing surface coatings that contain PFAS, which could include food packaging. A previous pre-publication version of the text had included this language.
Tom Carper, a Senator from the US state of Colorado, wrote a letter to the EPA and called for a formal inspection of “potential irregularities” in finalizing the new rule. He writes that “the published version of the rule deleted EPA’s statement that any portion of a product that was coated with PFAS would be subject to the rule, even if the coated portion was on an interior-facing surface of the product (because of the potential for exposure to the PFAS during disposal of the product). The published version also added a statement indicating that EPA would be issuing guidance on which coatings would be covered by the rule later, raising questions about whether that guidance would ultimately make fewer products coated with PFAS subject to the rule.”
In an article published on July 28, 2020, non-governmental organization the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) also criticizes the US administration for allowing new PFAS substances onto the market through exemptions to the standard premanufacture notice (PMN) process. Through application using a low volume exemption (LVE), EDF reports 274 applications have been announced since April 2020. It argues that this approval process is not transparent with the identity of the substance under evaluation and justification for its approval not provided to the public.
EPA (July 28, 2020). “Trump EPA Continues to Aggressively Address PFAS on the Federal, State, and Local Level.”
Terry Hyland (July 30, 2020). “US EPA adjusts surface coating language in published PFAS rule.” Chemical Watch
Richard Denison (July 28, 2020). “Greasing the skids: The Trump EPA is green-lighting dozens of new PFAS under TSCA.” Environmental Defense Fund
SGS (September 9, 2020). “US EPA Issues Amended SNUR for LCPFAC and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemicals.”
US Federal Register (July 27, 2020). “Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances; Significant New Use Rule.”