PFAS Perspectives

New Requirements for PFAS in RY2020 Toxic Release Inventory Reporting

May 21st, 2020

As you begin working on your RY2019 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) calculations and reports (due by July 1st, 2020), it is important to consider the rule changes that will impact your RY2020 TRI reports due next year on July 1st, 2021. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) recently added 172 per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the RY2020 TRI Chemical list. While they won’t be reportable this year, you should take this year to begin evaluating your chemicals, processes, and releases to determine if any of these 172 substances are either manufactured, processed, or are otherwise being used within your facilities.

For those that don’t know what PFAS are, they are materials that have been used to make household and commercial products that resist heat and chemical reactions, repel oil, stains, grease, and water. Since the 1960s, PFAS can be found in industrial cleaners, hydraulic fluids, nonstick cookware, plastic mold release agents, resins, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, water-repellant clothing, paper and cardboard food packaging, and firefighting foams. Industries that may interact with PFAS include manufacturing, military, firefighting, aerospace, automotive, construction, and electronics, among numerous others. PFAS chemicals have been linked to health complications and there are still many unknown environmental exposure effects surrounding them as well. As a result, federal and state governments have begun regulating the chemicals. 

The majority of these 172 PFAS chemicals have a de minimis level of 1% for TRI reporting, except Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) Number: 335-67-1) which actually has a de minimis level of 0.1%. The de minimis level means that if the material is present below 1% (or 0.1%), it should not be included in your total usage. The PFAS chemicals are each considered to be a separate TRI chemical and not a combined category. The reporting thresholds for each of the listed PFAS chemicals will be 100 pounds for manufacturing, processing, or other use of the chemicals at your facility.

How do you know if your facility is using PFAS chemicals and is subject to TRI reporting?  Well, this is the tricky part.  When evaluating the applicability of chemicals that are subject to TRI reporting, we rely on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to provide chemical composition and percentage. However, PFAS chemicals may not specifically be listed on the SDS as they are sometimes used within a proprietary mixture.

So, how will you know if the SDS does not provide the PFAS chemical composition or CAS No.? We have identified a few questions or steps to consider that will assist you in determining if PFAS chemicals are used at your facility.

  1. First, you should confirm that your business NAICS Code is listed in the EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Forms and Instruction manual that is updated annually on EPA’s website.
  2. Next, determine based on your company knowledge of your business operations and what you are manufacturing or producing if you are more than likely using PFAS chemicals.
  3. Finally, you should request new SDSs from your chemical providers for PFAS.

If you determine that PFAS chemicals are being manufactured, produced, or are otherwise being used at your facility, you should complete an evaluation to determine if you exceed the reporting threshold. The EPA is still working on putting together applicable TRI guidance documents on these new emerging TRI chemicals. If in the years to come you determine that you have PFAS chemicals onsite, you may need to complete historical evaluations for the previous five years or up to RY2020 (whichever is less). TRI asks for facilities to file an accurate and complete Form R or Form A and requests voluntary revisions based on previously unavailable information or procedures, which improves the accuracy of the data initially reported.

If you have any questions about TRI reporting or the applicability of PFAS, please contact us.

If you missed it, check out our on-demand webinar library for "How PFAS Could Affect Your Operations: What Actions You Should Take."

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