Read the full article by E.A. Crunden (E&E News)

“Republicans opposing measures aiming to crack down on ‘forever chemicals’ are pointing to the presence of the toxic substances in face masks worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to bolster their arguments against advancing legislation.

The GOP lawmakers are increasingly asserting that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are vital — especially during a public health crisis — due to their use in products combating the pandemic.

‘There’s a good chance that the masks many of us wore over the last year and a half to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 contained PFAS,’ said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), joining other Republicans who made similar remarks during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change hearing last month.

His comments targeted legislation including the ‘PFAS Action Act,’ H.R. 2467 (E&E News PM, June 16).

That bill — co-sponsored by Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican — would see an accelerated timeline for drinking water regulations for two types of PFAS: PFOA and PFOS.

Those two chemicals would also be designated as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. Within five years, regulators would have to make a determination whether to extend CERCLA designation to the broader PFAS family, whose members number in the thousands.

Part of the controversy centers on whether PFAS, some of which are tied to serious environmental and public health threats, should be regulated individually or as a class.

Industry members in particular say class-based regulation would lead to a virtual ban on the so-called forever chemicals, something a number of Republicans have echoed.

‘Are my colleagues across the aisle now proposing we end the use of masks because many of them contain [these chemicals]?’ Carter asked.

That point of contention reemerged during the full Energy and Commerce Committee bill markup, eventually causing Environment and Climate Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) to say with exasperation that the legislation ‘would not cover all PFAS’ and would not affect manufacturing. The bill ultimately headed on to the full chamber after every proposed Republican amendment failed (E&E Daily, June 24)…”