Read the full article by Melanie Benesh (Environmental Working Group)
“If the Environmental Protection Agency designates the two best studied ‘forever chemicals‘ called PFAS as hazardous substances, manufacturers will not be forced to stop using them.
That’s because the relevant law, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Liability, and Compensation Act, or CERCLA – better known as the Superfund law – doesn’t regulate use. It regulates cleanup. A CERCLA hazardous substance listing does not prevent responsible manufacturers from continuing to use PFAS. Instead, it governs the cleanup of sites contaminated by the release of hazardous substances and allows the EPA to recover costs from responsible polluters.
The need to clean up historic PFAS contamination has never been so urgent. This month, the EPA concluded that PFAS, which have been linked to cancer and other health harms, are far more toxic than previously thought.
Over the more than 40-year history of the Superfund law, designating a chemical a hazardous substance has rarely led manufacturers to stop using it. These hazardous substances are used by manufacturers every day, often in large quantities.
There are about 800 chemicals on the CERCLA hazardous substances list. Almost 700 have been on the list since 1980, when the Superfund law was passed. At least three-quarters, or 599, were likely still in active use as late as 2019, according to an EWG analysis that year. Nearly half, or 339, were not only still in production but also likely produced at high volume. One of the most produced and widely used chemicals in the world – sulfuric acid – has been classified a hazardous substance for more than 40 years.
Many false claims have been thrown around about the terrible consequences of this designation. Some members of Congress, repeating industry talking points, have claimed – incorrectly – that such a designation for PFAS would ground airplanes, end the use of life-saving heart stents and force us to throw out our masks.
For example, one legislator warned that ‘labeling all PFAS as hazardous poses a direct threat to FDA-approved drugs and devices’ and ‘could lead to lives lost.’ At the same hearing, another legislator asked whether the bill under discussion was ‘proposing to end the use of masks because many of them contain [PFAS].'”…