Government Takes Action On “Forever Chemicals”

( The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a new rule that would prevent companies from using a “loophole” to avoid reporting on how much “forever chemicals” they release into the environment.

In a statement on Monday, the EPA said the proposed rule is designed to improve reporting on the toxic, made-made chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) to the Toxics Release Inventory.

PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly both in the environment and in human and animal bodies.

The Toxics Release Inventory is an annual report consisting of information that has been submitted from manufacturers and facilities regarding their use of certain chemicals linked to cancer, significant acute human health effects, or significant adverse environmental impact.

Companies and manufacturers are currently able to avoid reporting on PFAS through a “loophole” that allows them to disregard any chemical in a mixture with less than 1 percent concentration (aka “de minimis exemption”).

In January 2020, Congress included in the National Defense Authorization Act an expanded list of chemicals covered by the Toxics Release Inventory to 180 while providing a framework to automatically add other PFAS in the coming years.

However, despite the expanded list, the EPA said fewer companies and facilities reported PFAS to the inventory in 2021 and 2022. After investigating the matter, the EPA found that facilities were citing the “de minimis exemption.”

To remedy the lack of reporting, the EPA is proposing listing PFAS as “chemicals of special concern” which would make them ineligible for the “de minimis exemption.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement on Monday that removing the “de minimis exemption” on PFAS will advance the work “set out in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap” while ensuring that companies are reporting “even small concentrations of PFAS.”

Regan said because PFAS “pose an urgent threat” to the country, “communities deserve to know if they may be exposed” through the way the chemicals are “managed, recycled, or released.”