By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On October 13, 2022, Earthjustice, on behalf of a coalition of environmental organizations and community advocates, petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revoke the approval of approximately 600 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that were granted through low volume exemptions (LVE) or low release and low exposure exemptions (LoREX) to the premanufacture notice (PMN) requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In its October 13, 2022, press release, Earthjustice states that these exemptions “allow EPA to approve chemicals through lax safety reviews only if it ‘will not present an unreasonable risk’ to humans or the environment.” According to Earthjustice, PFAS do not meet that standard, and EPA must revoke previously granted LVEs and LoREXs for PFAS. The petition follows an April 27, 2021, petition filed by Earthjustice on behalf of many of the same petitioners, and it incorporates the 2021 petition by reference.
The petition requests the following actions:
- For all outstanding LVEs and LoREXs granted for PFAS, EPA must make a preliminary determination that these LVEs and LoREXs do not meet the terms of TSCA Section 5(h)(4) or 40 C.F.R. Section 723.50(d);
- For all outstanding LVEs and LoREXs granted for PFAS, EPA must notify their manufacturers that it believes their substance does not meet the requirements for a PMN exemption and then proceed to make a final determination based on the current science that no PFAS meets the TSCA Section 5(h)(4) standard for a PMN exemption, taking into account potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations, in accordance with the protocols set forth in 40 C.F.R. Section 723.50(h);
- In the alternative, EPA must individually re-assess all PFAS for which there is an outstanding LVE and/or LoREX to determine whether the substance meets the standard set forth in 40 C.F.R. Section 723.50(d) and in TSCA Section 5(h)(4); and
- Petitioners incorporate by reference all of the requests set forth in the 2021 petition and reiterate the same requests here:
- EPA must initiate a rulemaking to prohibit: (a) future use of the byproducts exemption for new PFAS; and (b) continued manufacture of any PFAS byproduct under the auspices of the byproducts exemption unless and until such PFAS has undergone a full PMN review and been approved by EPA, with a two-year window for manufacturers to receive such approval; and
- EPA should immediately stop permitting the use of the LVE, LoREX, and polymer exemption for any new PFAS.