In an article published on November 10, 2020, Bloomberg Law discusses how Joe Biden’s upcoming presidency in the United States could affect the nation’s regulations on chemicals. Citing comments he made during recent campaign debates, the article points to Biden’s interest in ‘frontline’ communities with highest exposures from nearby chemical manufacturing and processing facilities. Significant shifts are also expected within the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including an increased focus on regulating and banning certain chemicals.

As the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) may gain special attention from the new administration. Biden’s published environmental justice plan specifically sets out to recognize PFAS as hazardous substances, implement enforceable limits on PFAS in drinking water, and prioritize substitution of the chemicals across current applications. Notably, designating the substances as hazardous under the US superfund program would put in place funding to clean up contaminated sites across the country, and it would also require polluters responsible to contribute their share in financing the efforts.

In contrast, an article recently published by investigative journal The Intercept cautioned the public to take a closer look at the experts Biden is appointing to his transition team. The author, Sharon Lerner, is specifically concerned about the appointment of Michael McCabe to the EPA review team. McCabe served as a deputy director of the US EPA in the 1990s. He also led PFAS manufacturer DuPont’s defense team during litigation against the widespread pollution it caused while manufacturing the toxic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; CAS 335-67-1) (FPF reported), thus “successfully help[ing] the giant corporation dodge the [US EPA’s] efforts to set binding limits on the chemical.” The Intercept is also skeptical of Biden’s own ability to defend public health from large PFAS manufacturers, which are still headquartered in his home state of Delaware.

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Pat Rizzuto (November 10, 2020). “Biden to Emphasize Chemicals Concerns of ‘Frontline’ Communities.” Bloomberg Law

Environmental Working Group (November 11, 2020). “How Will the Biden Administration Tackle ‘Forever Chemicals’?

Sharon Lerner (November 11, 2020). “Biden EPA Transition Team Member Helped DuPont Dodge Responsibility for PFOA.” The Intercept

Megha Satyanarayana, Melody M. Bomgardner, Britt E. Erickson, Rick Mullin, Alexander H. Tullo, Andrea L Widener (November 6, 2020). “Chemistry awaits US presidential pick.” Chemical & Engineering News

Terry Hyland (November 11, 2020). “Biden administration expected to increase scrutiny of TSCA risk evaluations, new chemicals.” Chemical Watch

Richard Denison (November 17, 2020). “Righting the ship: A new chance for stronger protections against toxic chemicals.” Environmental Defense Fund

Center for Food Safety (November 18, 2020). “Center for Food Safety’s Biden Administration Priority Recommendations Urgently Needed to Protect Our Food and Environment.”