New Act Adds 160 PFAs to EPA’s to List of TRI-Reportable Chemicals

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 recently added 160 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

This addition creates immediate regulatory requirements for establishments that manufacture, process, or otherwise use the listed PFAS.

Let’s take a look at the background of this act, the specific obligations it creates, and the ways it may affect your business.

Background

As we discussed in a previous post, PFAS are a broad class of synthetic chemicals that have been widely manufactured since the 1940s. They are frequently present in products such as firefighting foams, food packaging, and cooking ware.

Over the years, a growing number of studies have indicated linkages between exposure to PFAS and a various health effects including reproductive and developmental defects, liver and kidney damage, and development of tumors. Concern over the use of PFAS has increased due to recent several instances of significant PFAS contamination, such as a 25-square mile swath in Western Michigan impacted from decades of nearby manufacturing activities.

EPA has already implemented a number of initiatives related to PFAS, as summarized on their PFAS landing page. The US government responded to the growing demand for more action by holding multiple hearings on PFAS during 2019 and proposing dozens of bills, with the new NDAA being the first to pass in both houses.

What’s Happening Now?

The NDAA was signed into law on December 20, 2019 and among its provisions, Section 7321 adds 160 specific PFAS to EPA’s list of TRI-reportable chemicals. The full list of PFAs added to the TRI list is available here.

These additions became effective as of January 1, 2020, meaning establishments that use these chemicals need to track the amounts manufactured, processed or otherwise used over the course of 2020 to determine their applicability. Establishments with PFAS quantities that exceed the reporting thresholds will need to include those PFAS on their 2020 calendar year TRI/Form R reports and submit them by July 1, 2021.

Here, it’s important to note that while TRI reporting thresholds for most chemicals are 10,000 pounds (for otherwise used) or 25,000 pounds (for manufactured or processed), the reporting threshold for PFAS in all 3 usage categories is only 100 pounds. Therefore, significantly lower quantities of these chemicals will trigger TRI reporting requirements — underscoring the need for establishments to ensure accurate tracking of inventory, throughput and environmental releases.

The NDAA also includes a mechanism to automatically add new PFAS to the TRI list following certain EPA actions. For example, Section 7321(c) states that whenever EPA finalizes a toxicity value for a PFA, that PFA will be added to the TRI list on January 1 of the following calendar year.

It should be noted that EPA separately issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on December 4, 2019 to solicit input from stakeholders on future rulemakings regarding addition of PFAS to the TRI list. Specific feedback requested includes information on categorization of PFAS, toxicology and appropriate reporting thresholds.

So, to sum it all up, we have 160 PFAS already added to the TRI list for FY 2020, a mechanism in place for automatically adding more PFAS to the list, and active PFAS review processes to determine additional restrictions, some of which may eventually add more PFAS to the list of TRI chemicals.

What Do I Need to Do?

There is definitely a lot of current activity related to PFAS with regard to TRI reporting, and there’s every indication that there will be even more to come. It’s important that affected facilities waste no time getting a handle on PFAS usage in your establishment.

The first step is to know whether or not you’re using any of the 160 PFAS that have just been added to the TRI list. That means having ingredient-level visibility into your chemical inventory, since product names often don’t provide many clues regarding the actual ingredients such as the presence of PFAS.

The next step is to make sure you have an effective system for tracking the movements of PFAS through your establishment. This means determining how much of your TRI-listed PFAS were otherwise used, manufactured or processed during the calendar year, and being able to accurately calculate whether those usages exceed the 100-pound reporting threshold for individual PFAS.

Let VelocityEHS Help!

Having the right tools in place will go a long way to help you maintain compliance with current and future TRI reporting requirements for PFAS. Our MSDSonline SDS & Chemical management solutions offer easy management of your chemical inventory and SDS library, with the capability of providing 24/7 access to SDSs for your entire workforce. Sophisticated ingredient indexing features make your chemical inventory visible right down to the ingredient level, giving you the ability to identify whether you use TRI-listed PFAS in your establishment, and track whether usages exceed reporting thresholds.

If you need help just getting started on figuring out if you have PFAS in your facility, we can help you there too with our On-Site Chemical Inventory Audit service. Our experts will come to your facility to conduct a thorough chemical inventory audit, comparing your physical inventory against your SDS library and identifying any gaps that may exist. If you’re missing any SDSs, we can help you quickly and easily obtain those, too.

To learn more about how VelocityEHS can help your business, contact us today!

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