EPA Finalizes Rule to Require Enhanced PFAS Reporting to Toxics Release Inventory

Published On: October 25, 2023By Categories: Newsline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule on October 20 that improves reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) by eliminating an exemption that allowed facilities to avoid reporting information on PFAS when those chemicals were used in small concentrations.

PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products, and as a result of removing this reporting exemption, industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, and chemical manufacturing, as well as federal facilities that make or use any of the 189 TRI-listed PFAS, will no longer be able to avoid disclosing the quantities of PFAS they manage or release into the environment.

“People deserve to know if they’re being exposed to PFAS through the air they breathe, the water they drink, or while they’re on the job,” said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. “Under this new rule, the EPA will receive more comprehensive data on PFAS and looks forward to sharing that data with our partners and the public.”

TRI data is reported to the EPA annually by facilities in various industry sectors. The data include quantities of chemicals that were released into the environment or otherwise managed as waste. Information collected through TRI allows communities to learn how facilities in their area are managing the listed chemicals.

The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) initially added 172 PFAS to the list of chemicals covered by TRI for the 2021 reporting year and provided a framework to automatically add other PFAS in future years. However, the NDAA provisions were codified in a manner that allowed facilities to avoid reporting on minimal concentrations of PFAS chemicals.

By designating PFAS as “chemicals of special concern” for TRI-reporting purposes, this rule eliminates the availability of that exemption and requires facilities to report on PFAS regardless of their concentration in mixtures.

The rule also makes the previous exemption unavailable for purposes of supplier notification requirements to downstream facilities for all chemicals on the list of chemicals of special concern, which also includes additional chemicals that, like PFAS, remain in the environment for long periods of time and build up in the body like lead, mercury, and dioxins.

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