PFASNew efforts to scrutinize the exposures, impacts and management of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are currently being undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

PFAS substances are a group of man-made chemicals that have a wide variety of uses in the automotive, construction, and electronics industry. Specific applications include adhesives, heat-resistant consumer products (i.e., Teflon), fire-fighting foam, chrome plating, electronics manufacturing, among others. However, these chemicals have been identified as an extremely persistent substance in the environment and the human body, with links to chronic health effects in people and animals. 

“Due to its widespread use in manufacturing, it will be critically important for AEM and its member companies to participate in discussions with decision-makers to ensure the industry’s voice is heard throughout the rulemaking process to better understand the impact of PFAS on our world,” said AEM Director of Global Standards and Compliance Jason Malcore.

To address the concerns associated with these chemicals, a growing number of jurisdictions have already taken steps to restrict the use of certain classes of PFAS substances. They include:

  • The United States
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • The European Union

The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants required 184 countries to eliminate the use and manufacture of Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); two chemistries present in fire-fighting foams. Now, however, the attention is shifting to the larger family of PFAS chemicals, where decisions will be made regarding the risks associated with these substances. Recent actions taken this year include:

  • On April 27, the U.S. EPA established a new council on PFAS. Comprised of senior EPA staff, the committee will work to implement elements of the 2019 EPA PFAS Action Plan, coordinate with national and regional offices to support PFAS remediation sites, and gather and exchange data regarding the health and environmental risks associated with these chemicals.
  • On April 24, the ECCC published a Notice of intent to address the broad class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Notice announces the Canadian government’s intent to move forward with activities to address the environmental and human health risks associated with PFAS substances. Due to the relative lack of toxicity and exposure data associated with commercially available PFAS chemicals, the ECCC plans on gathering this data under the umbrella of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and coordinating with other jurisdictions to manage the risks associated with their use.

If you or your company have any questions regarding this topic, or would like to know how you can get more involved, please reach out to AEM’s Jason Malcore at All AEM work regarding this topic will take place in the AEM Regulatory Compliance Steering Committee.

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