By Jeffrey Dintzer and Gregory Berlin April 14, 2022, 4:00 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis includes data on the first reporting for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In connection with the analysis, the EPA announced that it was concerned by the “seemingly limited scope of PFAS reporting” and that it intends to remove the de minimis exemption for reporting PFAS.
The announcement indicates that the agency is paying close attention to how facilities report releases of PFAS and will continue to make PFAS a top priority.
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS have been found in a wide array of consumer products such as cookware, food packaging, and stain and water repellents used in fabrics, carpets, and outerwear.
Addition of PFAS to the TRI
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 immediately added 172 PFAS substances to the list of chemicals covered by the TRI under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and provided a framework for additional PFAS to be added to the TRI annually.
The TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health and the environment. Facilities in different sectors must report annually how much of each chemical is “released” to the environment and/or managed through recycling, energy recovery, and treatment. A “release” of a chemical means that it is emitted to the air or water or placed in some type of land disposal. The information submitted by facilities is compiled in the TRI. In general, chemicals covered by the TRI program are those that cause (1) cancer or other chronic human health effects, (2) significant adverse acute human health effects, and (3) significant adverse environmental effects. Facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use these chemicals in amounts above established levels must submit annual reporting forms for each chemical.