6 FAQ on PFAS regulations 

What you need to know

Christopher McClure, Jen Baker, Rebecca Miller
6 FAQ on PFAS regulations: What you need to know

Existing and emerging PFAS regulations are addressing the urgent environmental and health concerns these chemicals pose.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a significant, global environmental and public health issue. Given the complexity and prevalence of the use of PFAS, organizations need to understand existing and emerging PFAS regulations and how to mitigate risks of these chemicals in their supply chains.

Following are six frequently asked questions and answers about PFAS regulations and compliance.

Looking for the latest information on ESG?
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter, RE: ESG, and other ESG insights.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are the thousands of manufactured chemicals that are found in nearly every type of product – from food packaging and cosmetics to firefighting foam and semiconductors. PFAS provide excellent water, oil, and heat resistance and have been widely used since the 1950s.

Unfortunately, the strong carbon-fluorine bonds that make PFAS desirable ingredients in manufacturing also make it difficult for PFAS to break down easily when released into the environment. In addition to their negative environmental impact, PFAS can cause a variety of detrimental human health issues. Regulators around the world are now focusing on PFAS, and they ultimately seek to eliminate them entirely from global markets with very few exceptions.

How are PFAS regulated in the U.S.?

More than 20 states have adopted their own PFAS regulations, with many more proposed bills in the works. Most states focus on the presence PFAS in consumer products, specifically cookware and cosmetics.

Because PFAS often are present in firefighting foam, many states are attempting to eliminate these chemicals from fire and safety equipment to prevent release of PFAS into the environment. States also have begun establishing data-gathering, testing, and reporting requirements on the presence of PFAS in the environment.

How does Maine’s PFAS policy differ from other state laws?

The first phase of Maine’s PFAS law is officially in effect. As of Jan. 1, 2023, carpet, rugs, and fabric treatments cannot contain PFAS, and companies must report on the presence of any PFAS in products sold into Maine. Extension requests are granted on a case-by-case basis, and almost 2,000 companies have been allowed additional time to comply.

Beginning in 2030, the sale of any item with intentionally added PFAS is prohibited in the state. Exemptions will be granted for products for which PFAS content is “currently unavoidable,” but manufacturers still must coordinate with Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to disclose this information.

What is the EPA doing about PFAS?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a PFAS strategic road map to address the persistent and bio-accumulative effects of PFAS. Mandatory reporting requirements are expected; however, the EPA is currently considering public comments before making a final decision.

The EPA intends to focus on PFAS in drinking water along with industrial uses, with a final rule expected in fall 2023 and summer 2023, respectively.

What is the status of the EU PFAS ban?

In one of the most stringent proposals to date, a group of European Union (EU) members are working with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in hopes of completely banning PFAS. The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden submitted their draft law on Jan.13, 2023.

The draft has been published and is now entering a public comment period. If accepted, the target effective date will be in 2025.

Find even more ESG-related information in our ESG resource center.

Next steps to compliance?

Global supply chain compliance has become increasingly complex, and it can be a challenge to manage all applicable regulations in addition to customer and investor expectations.

Adding in PFAS compliance to a company’s existing compliance program – including the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals, the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, California’s Proposition 65, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, and conflict minerals regulations – can improve risk mitigation, allow for informed sourcing decisions, and reduce lead time when responding to customer requests.

More PFAS regulations are on the horizon, and taking steps now to comply will strengthen any organization’s responsible sourcing policies and procedures.

Contact our integrated ESG team

Navigating existing and new regulations can be a complex endeavor. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get and stay compliant.
Arjun Kalra
Arjun Kalra
Technology, Media & Telecommunications Consulting Leader; Office Managing Principal, San Francisco/San Jose
Jennifer Baker
Jen Baker
Rebecca Miller
Rebecca Miller