Read the full article by Cheryl Hogue (C&EN)

“This year, both the US Congress and the US Environmental Protection Agency are likely to take action on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution. These synthetic chemicals, prized for their durability, don’t break down in the environment. Studies of some nonpolymeric PFAS show that they cause health problems in people and laboratory animals.

Last week, the US House of Representatives was set to pass bipartisan PFAS legislation (H.R. 535) after C&EN’s deadline. The bill would speed the cleanup of the two PFAS—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)—that most frequently are detected in US drinking water. Epidemiology studies have linked PFOA and PFOS, chemicals found in the blood of most Americans, to adverse reproductive effects and other health harms.

The bill contains a number of other provisions to control PFAS. At least some of them have sparked opposition to H.R. 535 from industry, including chemical makers, as well as a veto threat from the White House. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told Bloomberg News that the House-passed bill has no chances in the Senate. Barrasso chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, which controls environmental legislation in the Senate.

Key supporters in the House say they included a raft of provisions in H.R. 535 to create a large platform on which to start negotiations with the Senate on compromise legislation.

The House-passed bill would require the EPA to list all PFAS that contain at least one fully fluorinated carbon as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. By law, the agency must stringently regulate emissions of such chemicals.

The legislation additionally would list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. This federal law on the cleanup of hazardous waste is also known as the Superfund act. Listing PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances would require polluters to clean up sites tainted with these chemicals, which formerly were used in firefighting foams and in chemical manufacturing…”