Read the full article by John Gardella (National Law Review)
“On January 13, 2021, the state of New York, through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), became only the second state in the United States to regulate PFAS in air emissions. New York proposed a regulation on air emissions for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – one type of PFAS – that would set an allowable concentration limit for PFOA that will have significant impact on industrial compliance practices. Failure to comply with the proposed regulations would expose companies to costly fines and penalties; however, pre-emptive action now to ensure full compliance will yield long-term cost savings.
What Are PFAS and Why Are They a Concern?
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (‘PFAS’) are a class of over 7,000 manmade compounds. Chemists at 3M and Dupont developed the initial PFAS chemicals by accident in the 1930s when researching carbon-based chemical reactions. During one such experiment, an unusual coating remained in the testing chamber, which upon further testing was completely resistant to any methods designed to break apart the atoms within the chemical. The material also had the incredible ability to repel oil and water. Dupont later called this substance PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), the first PFAS ever invented. After World War II, Dupont commercialized PFOA into the revolutionary product that the company branded ‘Teflon.’
Only a short while later, 3M invented its own PFAS chemical – perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which they also commercialized and branded ‘Scotchgard.’ Within a short period of time, various PFAS chemicals were used in hundreds of products – today, it numbers in the thousands.
The same physical characteristics that make PFAS useful in a plethora of commercial applications, though, also make them highly persistent and mobile in the environment and the human body – hence the nickname, ‘forever chemicals.’ While the science is still developing regarding the extent of possible effects on human health, initial research has shown that PFOA and PFOS are capable of causing certain types of cancer, liver and kidney issues, immunological problems, and reproductive and developmental harm…”