EPA Correctly Names PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances, an Important Step to Limit Harms

Statement by Genna Reed, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Aug 29, 2022

WASHINGTON (August 29, 2022)—Last Friday, the EPA issued a proposal that would designate two of the most widely used perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (collectively referred to as PFAS), PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. This move would ensure polluters, not affected communities, cover the costs of cleaning up contamination, and would trigger reporting requirements of releases of these chemicals. This is among the first actions that the US government has taken to regulate this common and dangerous class of pollutant after decades of scientific evidence—including studies from the manufacturers themselves—have demonstrated the threats they pose to human health and the environment.

Below is a statement by Genna Reed, director of policy analysis for the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“Administrator Regan made the right call by naming PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances—a long overdue but welcome action. For decades, too many people have shouldered not just the health costs of exposure to PFAS chemicals, but the financial burden associated with protecting their families and communities from these chemicals. These burdens have fallen harder on communities of color, low-income neighborhoods, and families living in or near military bases. With this rule, EPA will require that the makers and users of these two PFAS pay to clean up their mess. This step is important, but it covers just a fraction of the PFAS manufactured and used in this country. Federal inaction and active disinformation campaigns deployed by the chemical industry to undermine the science have meant that PFOA, PFOS and thousands of other chemicals in the PFAS class have entered our waterways, fields, air, homes and bodies. EPA must urgently follow up this rule with strong science-based and equitable actions to regulate PFAS as a class.”

UCS experts have written extensively on the prevalence and risks of PFAS chemicals, including the 2018 report A Toxic Threat.