SACRAMENTO, Feb. 3, 2020 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of an 18-state coalition, filed a comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to list per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively, PFAS) on EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The TRI tracks toxic chemicals that pose a threat to human health and the environment and requires annual reporting of how much of each toxic chemical is released into the environment. PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals widely used in consumer products including nonstick cookware, water- and wrinkle-resistant clothing, and food packaging, as well as in firefighting foam. PFAS chemicals do not break down in the environment and as a result, these “forever chemicals” accumulate in human bodies. PFAS chemicals have been shown to cause adverse health effects including developmental defects, kidney cancer, liver damage, and impacts on the thyroid and immune system. It is estimated that 99 percent of Americans have detectable levels of PFAS in their bloodstream.
“The EPA must stop dragging its feet and do its job to protect our communities from the risks of PFAS,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These forever chemicals taint millions of products, along with the water we drink and the food we eat – damaging our health and the environment. It’s time for EPA to stop ignoring the danger posed by these harmful chemicals and take immediate and appropriate action before it’s too late.”
In the comment letter, the multistate coalition presents support for the inclusion of PFAS in the TRI as considerable evidence exists demonstrating the harm caused by PFAS to human health and the environment. Chemicals are added to the TRI through statutory inclusion by Congress or by designation by EPA. In December 2019, Congress added certain individual PFAS chemicals to the TRI. The state attorneys general acknowledge that those additions are an important first step, but urge EPA to now proceed with rulemaking to cover the entire family of PFAS chemicals. The comment letter recommends that EPA:
- Add the entire class of PFAS to the TRI program as a single category listing. The PFAS class includes thousands of individual chemicals, including the 600 chemicals currently active in U.S. commerce;
- In addition to listing PFAS as a category, list a number of individual PFAS chemicals together with certain salts and other compounds associated with the individual chemicals; and
- Given the high potential for harm from PFAS exposure, adopt a reporting threshold of one pound annually for individual PFAS chemicals and the combined category. This would require facilities to report to the TRI program if they are manufacturing, processing, or using PFAS in quantities of at least one pound.
Attorney General Becerra has taken continued action to protect the public from the dangers of PFAS. On June 11, 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a comment letter opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Draft Interim Recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFAS. In July 2019, the coalition filed a letter in support of Congress’s efforts to pass legislation addressing the dangers of PFAS.
Attorney General Becerra filed the letter as part of a coalition including the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the letter can be found here.