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EPA classifying two ‘forever chemicals’ as hazardous


Photo: Kittisak Kaewchalun/iStockphoto

Washington — The Environmental Protection Agency will designate as hazardous two cancer-causing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, with wide industrial and consumer use, under a new final rule.

EPA will take the action for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980

Designating a PFAS as hazardous requires employers “to notify federal, state, local and tribal authorities, as well as potentially injured parties, of significant releases” into soil or water, the agency says.

PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they break down slowly over time. 

EPA notes that PFOA and PFOS have been in use since the 1940s. Although various manufacturers have voluntarily phased out domestic production of PFOA, the substance, as with PFOS, remains ubiquitous.

“PFOA and PFOS have historically been used in a wide range of consumer products including carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, packaging for food and cookware, and firefighting foam, in addition to being used in a wide range of industrial processes,” EPA says.

The final rule is set to go into effect July 8.

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