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:
- Create nationwide drinking water standards for two of the most widely studied types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS
- Require EPA to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA within one year, and determine whether to list all other PFAS compounds as “hazardous substances” within five years
- Create a voluntary labeling system for cookware manufactured using PFAS
- Impose a five-year moratorium on approving new uses for PFAS
- Create new requirements for health testing, restrictions on incinerating products containing PFAS, including designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act
- Limit industrial wastewater releases containing PFAS, and require the EPA to dedicate $200 million a year for wastewater treatment
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) is slowly beginning to develop enforceable limits on PFAS chemicals, full regulatory enforcement will take several years. The PFAS Action Act accelerates this process, requiring the EPA to set these standards and clearly define PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” within one year. In turn, this could expedite clean-up efforts for the thousands of sites the EPA recognizes as contaminated by PFAS.
This newly announced bill closely reflects the PFAS Action Act of 2019, which, despite bipartisan support in the House, failed in the Senate. While the Act relies primarily on existing environmental statutory programs to address possible PFAS contamination, it creates hard deadlines that incentivizes swift action.
Ally Cunningham is a Partner at Lathrop GPM LLP in the Environmental & Tort Practice Group. She focuses on the areas of environmental, toxic tort and other crisis-related litigation. Ally’s national practice consists of trials ...
Maddie Level is an associate in the firm's Kansas City office who focuses her practice on product liability, tort litigation, and business litigation. Maddie’s practice ranges from individual to class action defense in both ...
Matt Walker’s practice includes all areas of environmental law, including litigation, regulatory compliance, and assistance with corporate transactions. He utilizes his background working for environmental regulatory ...
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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.