U.S. House Passes PFAS Legislation

The US House of Representatives has passed legislation aimed at imposing restrictions on new and existing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including a five-year moratorium on bringing new PFASs to market.

The PFAS Action Act (HR 535) passed on a vote of 247-159.

The measure incorporates text from 11 other bills addressing the controversial class of substances. Its numerous provisions include requirements that the EPA:

  • amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require a ‘poses an unreasonable risk’ finding and use prohibition in response to any new chemical notification for a PFAS, for a period of five years;
  • create a rule under section 8 of TSCA requiring manufacturers to submit relevant data;
  • issue guidance for minimizing the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam; and
  • revise its Safer Choice standard to require that pots, pans and cooking utensils labelled with the program’s seal do not contain them.

And the House voted to approve a number of amendments to the bill, including:

  • adding stain-/water-/grease-resistant coatings that are not subject to requirements under section 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to the list of products eligible for a voluntary label indicating an absence of PFASs;
  • requiring the EPA to develop a national risk-communication strategy to inform the public about their hazards;
  • expanding Safer Choice to include carpets, rugs, clothing and upholstered furniture that do not contain the substances; and
  • preventing implementation of the measure’s provisions until after the EPA certifies that its PFAS action planis completed.

An amendment also removed a provision which would have directed the EPA to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund).

The legislation faces an uphill battle to passage, given a Republican-controlled Senate and President Trump’s plan to veto it.

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