Per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS): the rising tide of regulation
It appears that daily newspaper articles announce previously unknown detections of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water supplies or identify new consumer products as potential sources of PFAS. PFAS, sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals,” are a large group of man-made chemicals used to make coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and other chemicals. at the water. These chemicals are commonly found in products such as clothing, food packaging, kitchen utensils, cosmetics, carpets, and fire-fighting foams, and have been used to make high-density fluorinated polyethylene containers.
As the public is increasingly aware of PFAS, calls for legislatures and regulators to address releases of PFAS to the environment are also increasing. Over the past year, federal regulators have taken several steps to control PFASs in the country’s drinking water and to curb the release of these substances into the environment; however, final binding regulations have yet to be published in many areas. While federal efforts have taken a little longer to unfold, state lawmakers have, in some cases, moved quickly to develop a patchwork of local regulations that businesses must navigate. This article will summarize some of the recent actions of federal lawmakers, discuss the intersection of these efforts with local state efforts in the Mid-Atlantic region, and forecast what lies on the horizon for federal PFAS regulation.