Read the full article by Megan Mineiro (Courthouse News Service)

“WASHINGTON (CN) — Bemoaning the government’s clandestine process of approving widely unregulated PFAS chemicals, environmentalists brought a federal complaint Wednesday to make the chemical program transparent.

Short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are a class of chemicals ubiquitous in commercial products and disturbingly linked to cancer, infertility, pregnancy complications and other toxic effects.

The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.

In their complaint Wednesday, filed in Washington, five groups led by the Environmental Defense Fund contend that these approvals occur in “a black box, thwarting the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input.”

The groups have been tracking the EPA’s chemical reviews with a particular focus on the more than 1,100 ‘PMN’ applications for new manufacturing since the Toxic Substances Control Act was strengthened in 2016.

‘But plaintiffs’ efforts have been unlawfully stymied by EPA’s black-box approach in which: EPA fails to timely notify the public when a PMN has been received; fails to timely disclose the complete PMN application, including all supporting documents, to interested members of the public; and abets manufacturers’ attempts to withhold information as confidential that is not entitled to confidential treatment under TSCA,’ the complaint says. ‘In doing so, EPA repeatedly violates TSCA’s numerous disclosure requirements, thereby denying Plaintiffs information to which they are legally entitled.’

In approving these chemicals without restriction, the EPA is certifying that the substances are not likely to pose an unreasonable risk.

‘But without the health and safety information that is submitted with the PMN, the public is left in the dark, with little-to-no ability to comment on the application before EPA makes a determination, to understand the basis for EPA’s decision, or to assess its validity,’ the complaint states…”