Energy & Environment

EPA proposes to close ‘loophole’ for reporting ‘forever chemical’ releases

The EPA said Monday that it is proposing to close a prior “loophole” that allowed some companies to get out of reporting their releases of certain kinds of toxic chemicals. 

The agency said it was proposing to end stipulations that let companies get out of disclosing how much PFAS — per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancers and other illnesses — they were dumping. 

Under current regulations, implemented under the administration of former President Trump, companies did not have to disclose the presence of PFAS if they only made up a small concentration of an overall discharge. 

The EPA said that fewer companies than expected reported PFAS releases in 2021 and 2022, and noted that some of them cited this concentration threshold, which the agency is now proposing to remove. 

“PFAS continue to pose an urgent threat to our country and communities deserve to know if they may be exposed because of the way these chemicals are being managed, recycled, or released,”  said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement. 

“By removing this reporting loophole, we’re advancing the work set out in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and ensuring that companies report information for even small concentrations of PFAS,” he added. 

Exposure to types of PFAS has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as thyroid disease and high cholesterol. The substances are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they linger in peoples’ bodies and the environment instead of breaking down over time. One study estimates that they can be found in the blood of 97 percent of Americans. 

Melanie Benesh, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, told The Hill that reporting requirements are important for a community’s right to know what’s in their water. 

“As the saying goes, sunshine is often the best disinfectant,” she said. 

“It’s incredibly important if you are a community that lives downstream from one of these facilities, to know if … PFAS are being manufactured, used, released nearby and how much of that PFAS is being released because ultimately it’s your drinking water,” she added.

Tags EPA Forever chemicals Michael Regan PFAS Trump
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