The Use Of PFAS Substances In Many Common Household And Industrial Products

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The Use Of PFAS Substances In Many Common Household And Industrial Products Opens Industry To Potential Increased Regulation And Lawsuits

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In recent years, there has been growing concern, and regulation,
of different chemicals commonly used with many consumer and
industrial products sold in the U.S. marketplace. One such group of
chemicals gaining increasing scrutiny among federal and state
regulators are per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS
chemicals includes more than 4,000 different chemical compounds and
are widely used in everyday products, including stain and water
resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, cookware,
paints and fire extinguishing foams. PFAS substances do not easily
break down in the environment and have been linked to a number of
health problems including cancer, thyroid disease and reproductive
issues. The growing scrutiny of PFAS chemicals includes plans for
increased regulation, as well as lawsuits against manufacturers,
processors, distributors and users of the chemicals.

PFAS have historically been, in large part, unregulated at the
federal and state level, but this may change in coming years as
federal and state regulators scrutinize the potentially adverse
environmental and human impact PFAS substances can cause. Some
state agencies have already implemented formal plans to try to
regulate the use of these chemicals either through agency
regulatory actions or through the courts under existing nuisance or
tort law.

Regulators have focused on two PFAS chemicals in particular:
Perfluorooctanioc acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
California state regulators in 2017 added both PFOA and PFOS
chemicals to its Proposition 65 list, a law that requires consumer
products sold in that state to include a warning if consumers may
be exposed to certain listed chemicals. In 2009, the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) also issued nonbinding advisories for
recommended PFOA and PFOS concentration levels in drinking water at
which adverse health risks were not anticipated to occur. These
advisories remain non-binding.

The EPA announced a PFAS Action Plan in 2019 to address these
chemicals and to determine whether binding regulation and
enforcement steps are necessary. In January 2021, the EPA issued an
advance notice of proposed rulemaking for PFOA and PFOS chemicals
that could potentially affect a wide-array of industries and
products including, but not limited to, carpet manufacturers, car
washes, coatings, paints, and varnish manufacturers, landfills,
paper mills, printing facilities where inks are used in
photolithography and textile mills. The new Biden-Harris
administration has indicated its commitment to addressing the use
of PFAS substances and is expected to continue the regulatory steps
taken by the EPA during previous administrations.

Scrutiny of PFAS chemicals has caught the attention of the Gov.
Evers administration in Wisconsin as well. Evers announced in
February 2021 that his administration was seeking an outside law
firm to help the state prosecute claims against companies
responsible for PFAS…



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