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PFAS Playbook

PFAS Playbook

Our award-winning PFAS group (yes, we really are award-winning) is known for frequently writing and speaking on various PFAS topics and sharing insights with businesses in different industry sectors. The past two months have been no different. Here are some highlights we want to make sure you don’t miss:

  • Matt Walker presented on PFAS Updates for the Environmental Practitioner at the Illinois State Bar Association's 20th Annual Environmental Law Conference on May 13. The presentation offered an in-depth look at the proposed RCRA federal rulemaking and proposed Illinois ...
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A multi-year investigation into Michigan’s wastewater treatment plants led to a recent discovery—PFAS chemicals made their way into Michigan’s beef supply. While PFAS contaminations have occurred in isolated beef populations in states like New Mexico, this was the first occurrence in Michigan.

What’s the concern? Accumulation in humans.

PFAS are a class of man-made compounds that are used to create fluoropolymer coatings which make products resistant to heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. Their pervasiveness results in countless sources of PFAS contamination ...

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Earlier this month, the Wisconsin State Natural Resources Board (NRB) moved to regulate the two most widely studied PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), in both drinking water and surface water within the state. Unlike some other states that have moved to adopt aggressive standards for groundwater such as Michigan, however, the Board declined to set limits on PFAS in groundwater. The Wisconsin Board’s decisions come in the context of broader federal PFAS regulation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ...

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PFAS, also known as the “forever chemicals”, are a group of man-made compounds whose potential presence in cosmetics and other personal care products have drawn the scrutiny of academic institutions, legislators, and consumers alike. The heightened attention over their use in a variety of consumer products, including cosmetics for texture and consistency, and for effects on skin, such as smoothing or conditioning, have led to state laws banning the sale of such products containing PFAS and class action lawsuits over their marketing claims.

PFAS content in cosmetics has ...

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Lathrop GPM Environmental Partner and member of our PFAS team, Rick Kubler, was recently selected to serve on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Remediation program’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Stakeholder Advisory Group.

In conjunction with the MPCA Remediation program, the stakeholder advisory group provide input and comments to the MPCA as it develops guidance for investigating and addressing PFAS contamination at remediation sites. The purpose of the PFAS guidance, which is anticipated to launch in the summer of 2023, will be to develop best ...

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Last month, the EPA issued the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) to establish nationwide monitoring for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates the EPA to monitor for unregulated contaminants in drinking water every 5 years. Under the UCMR 5, public water systems will collect data on 29 PFAS over a 12-month period from 2023 through 2025 with a report of final results in 2026. The UCMR 5 testing requirement will apply to public water systems serving over 10,000 people; all systems serving ...

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On November 16, EPA asked its Science Advisory Board (SAB) to review draft scientific documents re-evaluating EPA’s 2016 analysis of potential health effects of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The review could lead to EPA lowering its existing drinking water health advisory levels and inform development of National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for the two compounds.

EPA sent four draft documents with recent scientific data and analyses to its SAB that indicate adverse health effects may occur at lower levels of exposure to PFOA ...

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Last Friday, the House of Representatives approved the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Act sets aside over $1.2 trillion in spending, $10 billion of which will be dedicated to addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in water. Through the establishment of three new grant programs, $5 billion will go to assisting rural and disadvantaged communities address PFAS in drinking water, $4 billion is pledged to removing PFAS from drinking water supplies, and the remaining $1 billion will be used to help address the presence of PFAS in wastewater ...

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In an August 5thletter to the food packaging industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a reminder to manufacturers, distributors, and users of fluorinated polyethene food packaging of the limitations of fluorinated polyethylene containers that are authorized for food contact use. The FDA also reminded the food packaging industry that the manufacturing of such packaging must be made under specific conditions and in compliance with existing FDA regulations.

The FDA’s letter comes in the wake of recent testing performed by the Environmental Protection ...

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On August 6, 2021, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law S.B. 561, known as the PFAS Reduction Act. The new law focuses on Class B firefighting foams, commonly referred to as aqueous film forming foams, which have been widely recognized as a source of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Among other provisions, the PFAS Reduction Act directs the following:

  • Prohibits any person (including local governments and fire departments) from discharging Class B firefighting foams containing PFAS during training exercises or testing, except under certain conditions.
  • After January 1 ...
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Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rule that would require more data from manufacturers on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) made since 2011. In the proposed rule, which can be read here, EPA announced their intention to gather certain information going back to January 1, 2011 in accordance with revisions to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) mandated by the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This one-time reporting obligation would apply to both chemical manufacturers and processors, as well as ...

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On July 22, the state of California unveiled for public review its draft public health goals (PHGs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two of the most widely studied types of PFAS. As noted in the goals, these two particular compounds have been used in consumer products and industrial settings for the last half-century. Because of their prevalence, California now proposes establishing a limit of PFOA at 7 parts per quadrillion in drinking water, and 1 part per trillion for PFOS. Even if finalized, California’s PHGs are not directly ...

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Three northeastern states are among those that have recently taken legislative action to address PFAS in consumer products and the environment. Maryland recently banned 13 different PFAS and their salts from being sold in cosmetic products within the state. Vermont recently passed an even stricter law prohibiting the sale of several categories of commercial products containing PFAS. Finally, Maine has established a limit of 20 parts per trillion for six types of PFAS found in drinking water, well below EPA’s 70 parts per trillion advisory level for PFOS and PFOA, while also ...

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Lathrop GPM Environmental & Tort Partner Ally Cunningham, along with Insurance Recovery attorneys Sarah Lintecum and Alana McMullin, recently co-authored the article “Cos. Should Review Insurance Policies for PFAS Coverage” in Law360.

The article addresses recent changes by the EPA and other governing bodies to regulate PFAS, including the proposal of an EPA Council on PFAS. The article also discusses the impact these changes may have on companies with PFAS responsibilities, how companies should prepare, and the role insurance coverage may play when found liable ...

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Join us on June 9 at 1:00pm CT for a virtual presentation on “PFAS Environmental and Insurance Considerations: What You Need to Know.” This is part of our annual State of Litigation three-part webinar series, beginning June 9 and concluding June 23. We will kick things off with our PFAS presentation. Register for one or all three sessions at https://bit.ly/2Sd8oBd.

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On April 27, 2021, new EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued a memorandum calling for the creation of a council composed of senior EPA officials dedicated to addressing nationwide impacts from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). In the memo, which can be read here, Administrator Regan directs the newly formed EPA Council on PFAS (“ECP”) to:

  • Develop “PFAS 2021-2025 — Safeguarding America's Waters, Air and Land,” a multi-year strategy to deliver critical public health protections to the American public based on EPA’s review of all ongoing actions and ...
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Members of Congress are renewing legislative efforts to impose new limitations on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). Announced by lawmakers from Michigan on April 13, the PFAS Action Act of 2021 would impose several significant restrictions upon the use, disposal, and clean-up of PFAS. Among other items, the Act would:

  1. Create nationwide drinking water standards for two of the most widely studied types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS
  2. Require EPA to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA within one year, and determine whether to list all other PFAS ...
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United States Senator, Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), along with other House and Senate Democrats, recently announced new legislation targeted at addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) contamination. The proposed PFAS Accountability Act, which has not yet been released, would establish a federal cause of action allowing individuals who have been exposed to PFAS to sue companies that manufacture or use the chemicals. Senator Gillibrand’s legislation will also provide legal pathways for federal courts to set up medical monitoring programs for ...

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On March 19, 2021, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (“OEHHA”) announced that it intends to list perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (“Proposition 65”).[1] For several years now PFOA has been included on the Prop. 65 list as a chemical known to cause reproductive toxicity, but this proposed change would list PFOA as a chemical “known to cause cancer.”

The change in language means that any ...

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On March 17, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking data concerning discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from manufacturers regulated in the Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF) point source category to inform potential future revisions to the category’s wastewater discharge requirements, fulfilling a pledge made in in the Final Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 14 issued earlier this year.

EPA’s ANPRM suggests EPA is considering ...

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Posted in Drinking Water

Illinois is now the most recent state to take steps to address PFAS in drinking water. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) recently released non-enforceable Health Advisory Levels (HAL) for four different PFAS, including PFOA (one of the more prevalent and widely studied type of PFAS). Although a non-enforceable guidance level, Illinois EPA’s HAL for PFOA is among the lowest standards in the country at 2 parts per trillion (ppt), well below the 70 ppt HAL set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

What does this mean for Illinois businesses? Expect ...

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February 22 brought another significant development in the world of PFAS, as EPA finalized its decision to regulate levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). To date, EPA has only issued non-enforceable health advisory guidelines, but this new determination means EPA will initiate the scientific review process to propose Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for PFOA and PFOS within two years. For more details, read our legal alert here.

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For the first time ever, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently posted information about PFAS being present in personal care products such as lotions, nail polish, shaving cream, foundation and mascara. There is even some concern about PFAS contained in dental floss. While this is really not a new phenomenon – as a 2018 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found that a number of beauty and skin care products contain Teflon – what is new is that the FDA is now taking steps to address it. Click here to read our recent client alert that discusses the research and ...

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2021 was already looking like a big regulatory year for PFAS – per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used for decades in everything from nonstick cookware to stain-resistant fabrics. But 2020’s final weeks point to a particular focus when it comes to the so-called “forever chemicals” – as well as tricky questions related to PFAS remediation. 

PFAS efforts have gained traction for years across the country and continue to do so. More local governments will likely ask for PFAS information in permitting in the months and years ahead. Individual companies, meanwhile, must ...

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Private equity firms are itching to use up their dry powder and M&A activity is surging. But a different acronym should be atop dealmakers' minds going into 2021. 

Regulations about PFAS contamination — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances used in products like nonstick cookware and waterproof or stain-resistant fabrics – is primed to increase under the Biden administration. Meanwhile, dealmakers targeting sites possibly contaminated years or even decades ago face a heating (and possibly narrowing) M&A window.

For buyers, it’s crucial to understand this moment and act ...

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More federal and state actions on PFAS in groundwater is likely under a Biden administration, but is also possible under another Trump administration. Companies facing potential liability should prepare for more regulation regardless of who wins the election. There are steps we suggest companies to take to prepare themselves, including: 

  • Stay plugged in on PFAS developments; 
  • Engage in formal lobbying;
  • Get your arms around any possible contamination and vulnerabilities; and 
  • Know the limits of insurance coverage from an insurance perspective and evaluate what entities around ...
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Legal tensions surrounding PFAS in food have intensified in recent years, and they are likely to become more heated. We suggest that there are four steps companies can proactively take to enhance customer safety and limit possible damages related to PFAS litigation, including:

  • Determine the source of the PFAS
  • Determine how the liability - and risk - could be spread
  • Know that civil liability often comes with regulatory liability
  • Make sure your records are good

To read more, view the full article in Food Safety Magazine, here.

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About this Blog

Lathrop GPM has deep experience developing regulatory strategy and defending litigation in the area of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and we have been involved in some of the nation’s most-publicized cases. The PFAS Playbook blog is dedicated to helping readers stay up to date and understand the latest regulatory updates on PFAS. 

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