Attorney General Becerra Urges EPA to Expand Review and Regulation of Toxic “Forever Chemicals”
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a coalition of 18 attorneys general, urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to broaden and strengthen the review and regulation of per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively known as PFAS). PFAS chemicals, known as "forever chemicals," have been shown to cause adverse health effects including developmental defects, kidney cancer, liver damage, and impacts on the thyroid and immune system. PFAS chemicals have contaminated groundwater at hundreds of sites across the country, including several military bases in California.
“These forever chemicals taint our water, damage public health, and harm the environment,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The science is indisputable. It’s time for the EPA to step up and do its job. We need immediate action to strengthen the review and regulation of PFAS chemicals to protect our communities from preventable harms. There is no time to waste.”
PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals widely used in consumer products including nonstick cookware, water- and wrinkle-resistant clothing, and food packaging, as well as in firefighting foam. These "forever chemicals" are stable in the environment, resistant to degradation, persistent in soil, and known to leach into groundwater. Human exposure can occur from contaminated air, water, soil, or food. Like many states, California has struggled with the public health challenge of PFAS-contaminated drinking water and widespread public exposure to PFAS at dangerous levels.
In the comment letter, the multistate coalition argues that the EPA's Supplemental Proposal to promulgate a significant new use rule does not go far enough to broaden the EPA's review and regulation of new uses for PFAS chemicals. The coalition supports expanded oversight that would allow the EPA to determine whether to restrict or limit new uses of PFAS chemicals in order to protect public health and the environment. Expanded oversight would also provide state and local government with the opportunity to participate in and inform the regulatory review process for new uses.
The coalition recommends the EPA strengthen the rule by:
- Expanding the range of PFAS chemicals covered by the rule;
- Requiring significant new use notifications for all products containing PFAS chemicals, not only products with PFAS surface coatings;
- Including review and regulation of both the importing and processing of products containing PFAS; and
- Not allowing any carve-outs to the reporting requirements for minimal amounts of PFAS.
Attorney General Becerra has taken continued action to protect the public from the dangers of PFAS. In February, he and other state attorneys general filed a comment letter urging the EPA to list PFAS on the Toxics Release Inventory under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Last year, Attorney General Becerra filed a multistate comment letter opposing the EPA’s Draft Interim Recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFAS. In July 2019, he submitted a multistate comment letter in support of Congress’s efforts to pass legislation addressing the dangers of PFAS.
Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the comment letter.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.