As part of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, the agency issued a final rule giving the EPA the authority to review an expansive list of products containing PFAS before they could be manufactured, sold, or imported in the United States. As part of the action, the EPA is prohibiting companies from manufacturing, processing, or importing products containing certain long-chain PFAS, which can cause adverse health effects, without prior review and approval. PFAS is an acronym used for a broad range of per- and poly-fluorinated substances used in the making of non-stick surfaces for cookware, stain repellent for carpets, and fire retardants for home products.
"The regulation can stop products containing PFAS from entering or reentering the marketplace without our explicit permission," EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a news release. "EPA is committed to aggressively addressing these chemicals of concern under the PFAS Action Plan."
As part of the EPA's final rule, products containing certain long-chain PFAS as a surface coating and caret contianing perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances can no longer be imported into the United States without EPA rule.. The action also impacts furniture and household appliance products that contain certain PFAS chemicals. The action "levels the playing field" for companies that have already voluntarily phased out the use of long-chain PFAS chemicals by preventing new uses of phased-out chemicals from starting up again, according to the EPA.
In September 2019, home-improvement retailer Home Depot announced it would stop carrying some products carrying PFAS chemicals by the end of the calendar year. The company stopped purchasing and selling carpets or rugs treated with PFAS chemicals. In November 2019, Lowe's introduced a safer chemical policy, which included a pledge to phase out flooring, insulation, lawn and garden, and paint products with certain chemicals present, including PFAS.
Studies have shown PFAS to pose a potential risk for testicular and kidney cancers, decreased birth weights, thyroid disease, decreased sperm quality, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, asthma and ulcerative colitis.