“Honeywell International Inc., Linde Plc, and the Chemours Co. are among the companies that have made or imported ‘forever chemicals’ in recent years, according to a newly obtained EPA list of the heat, oil, and friction-resistant chemicals.
The list of about 630 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that Bloomberg Law obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency through a Freedom of Information Act request identifies chemicals that were made, imported, mixed, or repackaged in the U.S. between June 2006 and June 2016.
Researchers, local and state regulators, and the public have asked for such a list to get a better picture of what PFAS chemicals are made or used in the U.S.
States around the country are developing policies to limit human and environmental exposure to the PFAS chemicals, some of which are persistent, meaning they don’t break down in the environment. Some PFAS cling to proteins in the human body for years and may cause health problems. Yet states lack chemical use, production, toxicity, and other information to help them determine which PFAS warrant their time and attention.
The EPA list focuses on chemicals ‘active’ in commerce, as defined by a regulation (RIN: 2070-AK24) the agency was required to issue under the 2016 Toxic Substances Control Act amendments. The regulation is meant to help everyone involved know which of some 86,000 chemicals on the agency’s official inventory of compounds—most of which are not PFAS chemicals—are still produced, imported, or used in the U.S.
The list also can help identify information that’s often difficult to obtain, such as the level of the chemicals in workers’ blood samples.
For example, DuPont Co. provided the EPA details on a sample of workers’ blood levels with perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), a type of PFAS the company has made.
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The EPA’s list includes Chemical Abstracts Service, or CAS, numbers for about 400 of the chemicals. Unlike chemical names, which often vary for the same compound, CAS numbers are specific to a single chemical.
California agencies, for example, can use CAS numbers to search internal, EPA, and other databases, said Karl Palmer, acting deputy director of the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Consumer Products Program. Having a CAS number can help an agency identify companies that have made a chemical, where they made it, how it’s used, and the volume produced, he said.
The Safer Consumer Products Program could explore whether the PFAS are in lists the state has of ingredients in paints, varnishes, or other chemical mixtures, said André Algazi, chief of the chemical and product evaluation unit in the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. The program could also examine whether the chemicals are listed on safety data sheets, which provide workers information about the hazards of chemicals to which they may be exposed, Algazi said.
Both California officials said having the CAS and other information from the EPA’s list allows scientists to see how to fit together disparate pieces of a data, like pieces of a puzzle, to help CalEPA decide its priorities.
‘The complete list of PFAS in commerce will enable impacted communities to demand more information about where these chemicals are produced, how they are released, and what effects they are having on human health and the environment,’ said Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, a staff attorney at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization.
‘For decades, industry has avoided oversight and regulation by withholding the most basic information about new PFAS chemicals,’ he said. ‘Too often, the first time the public learns of a new PFAS is when it is detected in the environment or in our bodies’…”