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What Are the Latest EPA Disposal Requirements For PFAS?

February 21, 2024

This blog entry identifies and discusses recent changes to disposal guidance for PFAS. Q&As include:

  1. What are PFAS?
  2. What do the letters PFAS stand for?
  3. Are PFAS dangerous?
  4. What have been the reporting rules for PFAS up until now?
  5. What does “TRI listed” mean?
  6.  What are the latest reporting-rule changes for PFAS?
  7. Where can you get advice & help concerning the latest reporting rules for PFAS?


What are PFAS?


PFAs are chemicals that resist grease, oil, water, and heat. First used in the later part of the Big Band Era, they’re nowadays ubiquitous in hundreds of stain- and water‑resistant products. E.g., fabrics, carpeting, paints, fire-fighting foam, and certain cleaning products.

Some PFAS have also gotten the FDA greenlight for use in food packaging and food processing equipment, as well as cookware. (N.B. That greenlight has recently changed to yellow.)

If only she were here, your chemistry teacher would tell you that individual PFAS can be very different from one another. However, all of them sport a tenacious carbon-fluorine bond, which means that they don’t degrade easily, and therefore are eco-hostile when they find their ways into water tables and landfills (see source).


What do the letters PFAS stand for?


The letters PFAS are an initialism for “per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.”

  • The “fluoro” part of that jawbreaker tells you that there’s some form of fluorine afoot: a pale yellow gas that’s poisonous for being the most reactive of all the chemical elements.
  • The “alkyl” puts you on notice that there’s a saturated hydrocarbon lurking in the concoction—usually methane, ethane, propane, or something akin that you shouldn’t breathe unless you absolutely have to.


Are PFAS dangerous?


They’re so useful, how could they not be? Consider:

Tests have shown that certain PFAS accumulate in human and animal bloodstreams. And epidemiological studies have linked PFAS to a variety of human maladies. E.g., adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes, altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, and—of course—cancer (see source).


What have been the reporting rules for PFAS up until now?


Section 7321 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law in December 2019. In part, it established a “reporting threshold” for PFAS and other “TRI-listed” chemicals (see Q.5). Thus, any entity manufacturing, processing, or otherwise handling 100 pounds or more of PFAS in a year must report how much of it’s managed through treatment, recycling, energy recovery, or emitted into air, water, or land.


What does “TRI listed” mean?


“TRI” is the initialism for Toxics Release Inventory. It’s based on a laundry list of chemicals that the EPA has determined pose a threat to human health and the environment. Such chemicals are therefore “TRI listed.”

An entity must submit TRI Form R to both the EPA and the state for each TRI-listed chemical it manufactures, processes, or otherwise uses in quantities above the reporting threshold, using the EPA reporting application TRI-MEweb.

The data collected across entities nationwide (see Q.4) are compiled so as to publish the annual Toxics Release Inventory, ostensibly to support informed decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public (see source).


What are the latest reporting-rule changes for PFAS?


The biggest change is in the “de minimis value”—de minimis being Latin for “from the smallest,” a term coopted by English-speaking lawyers to mean “so small as to be of no interest to government.”

Back in 2019, a de minimis value of 1.0 percent was established for PFAS [except for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was set at 0.1 percent]. This meant, of course, that if the materials you were manufacturing, processing, or otherwise handling contained less than 1.0 percent PFAS (or less than 0.1 percent PFOA), you needn’t report them.

But last October, the EPA finalized changes to TRI reporting requirements that have changed things in at least three big ways. As of November 30, 2023:


  1. The de minimis value exemption is effectively kaput. In other words, the EPA now classifies PFAS as subject to TRI, regardless of how small the concentration (see source).
  2. For chemicals used in quantities less than one million pounds, with total releases less than five hundred pounds, PFAS no longer qualify for the relatively brief & simple Form A report, which once-upon-a-time could be submitted instead of the long & complicated TRI Form R.
  3. Where supplier notification hasn’t been required for TRI chemicals present in a material below the de minimis value, compositional data for PFAS must heretofore be included on safety data sheets and/or other supplier notification documents.


Where can you get advice & help concerning the latest reporting rules for PFAS?


The specialists at Hazardous Waste Experts are unsurpassed at designing & implementing custom solutions for helping business & industry safely manage and dispose of PFAS in the workplace, as well as fulfilling the myriad of attendant reporting requirements demanded by federal, state, and local authorities.

In no small part, we do so by keeping abreast of the ever-changing federal, state, and local rules and legislative initiatives that impact PFAS management. As a one-stop solution for hazardous waste management, we’re uniquely qualified to help you manage your PFAS waste needs.

And as always, thank you for reading our blog!

Contact us today or call 888.681.8923

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