Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been the subject of new regulations in recent years. Beginning with the 2020 reporting year, 172 new PFAS chemicals have been added to the list of reportable chemicals under Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program. Facilities that manufacture, process, or use 100 pounds or more per year of any of the listed PFAS chemicals must include those chemicals in their annual TRI report due July 1, 2021.
TRI reporting presents several challenges for manufacturers, processors, and users of PFAS containing chemicals. Facilities potentially subject to new PFAS reporting under TRI will need to know what specific processes and materials to examine to determine usage and releases. Quantifying your inventories may be very tricky due to the lack of testing methodologies and technical resources on the subject. Except for drinking water, EPA will not be validating testing methodologies until 2021.
Although the EPA has not provided TRI guidance for PFAS chemicals, their recent webinar did highlight some important information, including:
- PFAS chemicals were not classified as Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxic (PBT) compounds; therefore, very low concentrations of PFAS are still eligible for the de minimis concentration exemption. Apart from Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), all PFAS chemicals have a de minimis level of 1%.
- The 100-pound threshold applies to each individual PFAS and not PFAS chemicals as a whole.
- If a facility maintains aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) containing PFAS for use in their fire suppression systems, TRI reporting is not required unless the suppression system is actually used in training or emergency response.
What should facilities do now to prepare for reporting year 2020?
- Review the list of PFAS chemicals added to the TRI, and thoroughly evaluate your facility’s operations for any use of the 172 listed PFAS. Even facilities that believe they are using very low levels of PFAS chemicals may exceed the 100-pound threshold over the course of a year.
- Understand industries and processes that have known PFAS usage, including:
- Photolithography industry
- Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) used in firefighting
- Water and grease resistance chemicals applied to paper products
- Electronics manufacturing
- Fume suppressant in chrome plating
- Oil and mining industry for enhanced recovery
- Manufacturers of composite resins, plastics, rubbers, and waxes
- Injected surfactants in oil and gas wellheads
- Fuel additives
- Water and oil resistance textiles
- Cleaning products
- Contact your suppliers to accurately determine the presence and concentrations of PFAS in the raw materials they supply. Some businesses may not realize PFAS are present in a chemical mixture since they may not be explicitly listed. Mixtures containing PFAS at very low levels may not be listed on safety data sheets (SDSs), but may still exceed de minimis concentrations. Additionally, some PFAS information may be withheld due to trade secrets or be referred to as “proprietary fluorosurfactants.”
- Complete a threshold determination by collecting data to determine the quantity of PFAS chemicals used and whether reporting is required. Document your review and the methods used to complete your determination.
- Make sure you are also evaluating whether you “manufacture” PFAS chemicals. Your operations may create PFAS as a byproduct of waste. Additionally, some products may contain fluorinated precursors that could create PFAS under certain conditions
- Stay apprised of PFAS related regulations and developments and the chemical use at your facility.
NGE is highly experienced in conducting TRI applicability determinations. The Environmental Compliance Division is equipped to facilitate TRI reporting or evaluating whether the new PFAS requirements will affect your facility in 2021.
If you need assistance with TRI reporting or evaluating new PFAS requirements –