Groups Call on EPA to Ban Plastic Fluorination that Creates PFAS Chemicals
EPA Must Release Withheld Health and Safety Studies
Washington, DC – The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) responded to nine significant new use notices (SNUNs) filed by Inhance Technologies by calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the process that creates per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) during the “fluorination” of tens of millions of plastic containers and bottles. PFAS from these fluorinated containers leach into the container contents, putting workers, consumers and communities across the U.S. at risk of unsafe exposure to these harmful substances.
In a letter released today to Dr. Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the groups emphasize that the Inhance SNUNs present a critical test of whether EPA will adhere to its commitment to stop the buildup of PFAS in humans and the environment by preventing new sources of exposure and release.
The SNUNs were filed in December 2022, two years after it was discovered that Inhance had been producing numerous PFAS in violation of EPA’s 2020 Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). These PFAS include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was phased out by major producers in 2015 because of the combination of pervasive exposure and serious adverse health effects at near-zero concentrations.
The letter to Dr. Freedhoff also expresses concern that the public has been shut out of the review of the SNUNs as a result of Inhance’s overreaching claims of confidentiality for extensive health and safety data included in their submissions. The letter demands that EPA immediately disclose this data, which, under TSCA, cannot be legally withheld from the public so that public health groups can meaningfully comment on the SNUNs.
Inhance submitted the SNUNs only after being notified by CEH and PEER that they intended to sue the company for producing long-chain PFAS subject to the 2020 SNUR without notifying and receiving approval from EPA, as required by TSCA. Inhance has continued its unlawful manufacturing and processing activities during the EPA SNUN review process. Separate suits have been filed by PEER and CEH and by EPA to stop Inhance’s unlawful conduct pending EPA’s review of the SNUNs and determinations of safety under section 5 of TSCA.
For two years, EPA has known that Inhance is violating the Agency’s July 2020 SNUR for certain long-chain PFAS under TSCA. Yet EPA did not file suit against Inhance until PEER and CEH threatened legal action and has still not informed the public of the serious public health concerns presented by use of fluorinated containers.
“This is a test of whether EPA is serious about addressing PFAS by using its authority under TSCA to deny approval to dangerous practices that will add to PFAS exposure and risk. Under no circumstances should EPA allow Inhance to keep important health and safety data from the public. We expect EPA to ban fluorination that creates PFAS after reviewing the SNUNs, to take forceful action to stop Inhance from violating the law while the SNUNs are being reviewed, and to be fully transparent in the process.”
— Colleen Teubner, PEER’s Litigation and Policy Counsel.
“It is unconscionable that Inhance has continued to create PFAS when fluorinating plastics, despite violations of TSCA for which EPA, PEER and CEH are suing the company. Now that Inhance has finally filed SNUNs seeking EPA approval to produce these PFAS, it is time for the Agency to stand its ground and take strong action to prohibit its unsafe fluorination practices. As it reviews the SNUNs, EPA must also immediately release health and safety information claimed confidential by Inhance so that the public can meaningfully comment on the SNUNs. We know that workers, consumers and communities are at risk and the redacted information in Inhance’s SNUNs would provide important insights into these risks.”
–Sarah Packer, Director of Petrochemicals, Plastics & Climate Program, CEH