The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a new framework that aims to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals entering the market and consequently damaging the environment.
The framework will apply to new PFAS or new use notices that are currently under EPA review, as well as any that EPA may receive in the future.
PFAS, short for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances - and also known as ‘forever chemicals' - are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been proven to be damaging to the environment and people’s health while also being resistant to degradation.
EPA said the new framework outlines a planned approach when reviewing new PFAS and new uses of PFAS “to ensure that, before these chemicals are allowed to enter into commerce, EPA will undertake an extensive evaluation to ensure they pose no harm to human health and the environment”.
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 5, EPA is required to review new chemicals, including new PFAS and new uses of PFAS, within 90 days and assess their potential risks to human health and the environment.
EPA must then take action to mitigate those risks before the chemical can enter commerce.
Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in a statement: “For decades, PFAS have been released into the environment without the necessary measures in place to protect people’s health - but with this framework, EPA is working to reduce the risk posed by these persistent contaminants.
“EPA’s new framework will ensure that before any new PFAS enter the market, these chemicals are extensively evaluated and pose no risk to people’s health or the environment.”
New York state and California have each announced plans to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in the manufacturing of apparel and clothing in recent years.
EPA said it will host a public webinar about the new PFAS framework this summer.