Companies making 20 PFAS will receive orders before the end of this year requiring them to provide the EPA with information on how these chemicals may affect human health, the agency’s senior official said on Wednesday. chemicals to a House subcommittee.
The required tests will help the Environmental Protection Agency understand more than 2,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, said Michal Ilana Freedhoff, the agency’s deputy administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention.
More data orders will come in the months and years to come, Freedhoff told the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The information will help EPA decide whether to group similar PFAS together and which PFAS deserve further analysis or possibly restriction.
The bundling strategy is essential, as the agency cannot process thousands of PFASs focusing on one at a time, Freedhoff said.
But Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) Said he was concerned Congress and the EPA are preparing to ban all PFASs, even if some are essential for medical purposes and for d ‘other purposes.
PFAS are used to make thousands of products ranging from catheters to fuel cells to non-stick frying pans. Yet growing scientific evidence shows that exposure to certain levels of specific PFAS can harm human health, Freedhoff wrote. testimony noted. Some PFASs stay in the environment because sunlight, weather, and most microbes do not break them down.
The commands Freedhoff described are one of many steps his office has taken to help implement the EPA’s three-year anniversary. roadmap to control and study these chemicals which he released on October 18. His comments came during a watch hearing on the EPA’s implementation of the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, as amended in 2016.
Money, Staff needed
The top Republican on the entire committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Washington), was among those who lambasted the agency for blocking the country’s economic success as it implemented the chemicals law.
“We are in the midst of a national supply chain crisis. We cannot afford to let an ineffective and unreasonable implementation of the TSCA further devastate US innovation and competitiveness, ”she said.
Rodgers and other Republicans have raised concerns over the EPA’s growing regulation of manufactured products, such as electrical equipment containing chemicals, and increased scrutiny of new chemicals that delay their entry into commerce. .
“Personally, I don’t think innovation and safety are exclusive,” Freedhoff said.
But insufficient staff and resources is a problem, she said. “We estimate that we have less than 50% of the resources needed to implement the new chemicals agenda as Congress intended.”
“I was shocked to learn when I arrived at the agency that the EPA had never made a single budget request that significantly added new funding to reflect its new statutory responsibilities,” Freedhoff said .
that of the president requested budget for the EPA includes a $ 15 million increase for reviews and chemical risk reductions, for a total of $ 75.5 million, which would allow the agency to add 90 employees.
An influx of money and staff would help the EPA achieve a crucial TSCA goal: to restore public confidence in the EPA’s oversight of chemicals, Freedhoff said.
“When the EPA says that a chemical found in products used in homes, schools and workplaces is safe, it is in everyone’s best interests that the public can believe us,” he said. she declared.
Upcoming Rules and Policies
The EPA plans to publish its method for deciding whether communities living near industrial sites, landfills and other sources of pollution face higher-than-average exposures to chemicals in the coming months. examines, Freedhoff said.
The agency plans to send a proposed rule controlling unreasonable risks from chrysotile asbestos to the Bureau of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review by the end of the year, she said. . That would mean the public could see the proposed rule early next year.
The EPA also plans to publish by early next year its draft plans, or “scope,” to conduct a more comprehensive analysis of the risks associated with other forms of asbestos and uses. histories of the carcinogenic mineral that result in continuous exposures, she said.
Historical uses, such as the mineral remaining in insulation and other building materials, were omitted from the agency’s initial analysis.