As TRI reporting season approaches it is important to note a significant change for the 2020 reporting year. The major TRI change this year is the addition of PFAS to the TRI list. The EPA has added 172 polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxic Release Inventory chemical list as of June 2020. These chemicals must be reported for your TRI report that is coming up for the 2020 reporting year. This follows Section 7321 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The deadline for reporting these chemicals is July 1st. If your industry manufactures, processes or uses any listed PFAS you must remember to include these chemicals in your TRI report this year if you exceed the reporting threshold.
TRI reporting has been an effective way of tracking toxic releases and pollution prevention in industry practices. This is how the EPA tracks the presence of harmful chemicals in the environment. Including PFAS in your TRI reporting will ensure that the public has access to information on the industries that are releasing the most. This will help to keep companies accountable while also maintaining the safe levels of PFAS in drinking water and the environment while meeting PFAS regulation requirements.
This article will outline:
- The addition of PFAS to EPCRA section 313 list of reportable chemicals.
- How this may affect your facility and TRI reporting requirements.
- How to accurately report PFAS.
What are PFAS Chemicals?
PFAS are polyfluoroalkyl substances. This group of chemicals includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and many other chemicals. They are primarily used to repel dirt, water, and grease. They are also used for chrome plating, electronic manufacturing, and oil recovery in the industry. These chemicals exist in a variety of products such as food packaging, commercial household products and others.
PFAS are stable in the environment and do not break down over time. They are dangerous because they can seep into the soil, be carried in the air and into groundwater and cause adverse effects to humans and the environment. PFAS health effects include thyroid hormone disruption, asthma, cancer, and low infant birth weights.
PFAS Regulations Background
Once the EPA established the safe levels of PFAS chemicals in the water to be 70 parts per million, they formulated an EPA PFAS strategy. They determined that there must be some regulations to control the release of these chemicals into the atmosphere. This is the framework that was used to determine maximum containment levels for states and local water authorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA's Office of Water (OW) developed a PFAS action plan to manage risk from PFAS exposure.
On December 20th, 2019, when the NDAA was signed into law, certain PFAS were added to EPCRA section 313 according to section 7321 of the NDAA. The PFAS that were added were evaluated based on:
- If it is listed as an active chemical substance under TSCA section 8(b)(1) (15 U.S.C. 2607(b)(1)). This section requires processors and manufacturers of certain listed substances to maintain records of the chemicals and report them.
- If it is subject to 40 CFR 721.9582 or 40 CFR 721.10536. These sections list all the regulated PFAS and their significant uses that require reporting.
This is how the EPA added that 172 chemicals to the list of PFAS chemicals for TRI Reporting. If a chemical is protected under confidential business information (CBI) then the EPA will review it separately according to the criteria to determine if it should be reported or if it should be added to the list.
Examples of Statewide Efforts to Regulate PFAS
States have also implemented measures to control the effects of PFAS within their regions. Most states have set a Maximum Contamination Level (MCL) and other regulations to control them. There is a variety of actions that states have taken to reduce the water concentrations of PFAS:
- Michigan established a set of rules regulating PFAS by limiting the groundwater standard for PFOA to 8 parts per trillion and PFOS to 16 parts per trillion.
- Maryland banned the use of PFAS in furniture flame retardants, mattress foam and children’s products.
- Maine prohibited the use of PFAS in packaging and packaging waste to reduce the toxicity of packaging materials. If you would like to learn more about how waste relates to TRI, ERA’s TRI best Practices blog outlines some useful methods.
- New Jersey issued directives for companies to address their PFAS contamination levels to stay within the safe drinking water limits.
- Washington has banned the use of PFAS in firefighting foam and PFAS use in personal protective equipment that is used in the workplace The state is collecting and disposing of the foam in a safe way that will not further contaminate the environment.
All these regulations ensure that there are fewer PFAS released into the atmosphere. If you would like to effectively monitor all your facility's chemicals along with evaluating your SDSs and updating your regulatory requirements with PFAS information, ERA’s Environmental Management Software is the ideal solution for EHS management.
What Industry is Affected? Does This Apply to Me?
If your facility has more than ten full-time employees and manufactures processes or uses PFAS in any way, then this rule may affect you. This rule applies to facilities that have North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes that correspond to Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes 20 to 39 with certain exemptions. The rule also applies to federal facilities. For an exhaustive list of these codes, the EPA has lists of the NAICS codes for affected industries here.
Other affected industries also include automotive, construction, electronics, and the military. If you are a part of these industries or have the NAICS codes mentioned above, you must be aware of which PFAS are above the threshold and need reporting. You can also consult current safety data sheets (SDSs) for your facility to properly identify if the material is supposed to be reported.
TRI Thresholds for PFAS
The NDAA has set the TRI threshold for each PFA that is being added to 100 pounds. If your facility is above the threshold then you must report the levels produced, pollution prevention (P2) activities associated with the PFAS and recycling measures taken for the PFAS.
De Minimis Levels for PFAS
TRI reporting requirements and exemptions apply to the 172 PFAS that were added to the list of reportable chemicals. If a chemical is present in the mixture in a concentration below 1% for most chemicals and 0.1% for carcinogens, then the component does not need to be included in determining the reporting threshold. De minimis levels for PFAS are 1% in mixtures except for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (CASRN: 335-67-1) whose de minimis threshold is 0.1%.
De minimis levels for PFAS
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (CASRN: 335-67-1)
Article Exemption for PFAS
If you have determined that your facility may manufacture, use or process PFAS, you may be wondering how the article exemption applies for your facility. The definition of an article according to the EPA is a finished manufactured product. The manufactured item:
- Is formed to a specific shape or design during manufacture.
- Has a use that depends on its form, shape, and size.
- Do not release any toxic chemicals during normal use in the facility.
If a toxic chemical is present within an article in your facility, then you are not required to report the toxic substance. You are not required to include the toxic substance that is within an article in your total calculation. Be mindful that if you process or use the article in a way that releases the toxic chemical then you must report the article. Make sure you note the uses of all the articles in your facility that may release chemical emissions. Article exemption for PFAS is the same as regular TRI reporting rules.
As you begin your TRI report, remember to thoroughly check if your facility manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses any of the listed PFAS in any capacity. Remember to consult your SDSs and other documents to make sure. ERA’s TRI Regulatory Updates Guide provides everything you need to know about TRI reporting complete with a full section of the PFAS updates.