The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday shared a new framework for evaluating the safety of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, and outlining their new uses.
PFAS, also commonly referred to as forever chemicals, are found in a variety of products, despite their known harm to human health and the bioaccumulation risks that they pose over time. In fashion, particularly, PFAS can be found in stain guards, which oftentimes come in direct contact with the human body. Several states have already placed bans on PFAS in apparel, and many brands, including American Eagle, Levi’s and The North Face, have done so as well; but this new framework could potentially eliminate the chemicals entirely.
Per the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA must examine new chemicals within 90 days of their introduction. The new framework offers a structure for the EPA’s New Chemicals Program, which exists to regulate the introduction of new chemicals into the marketplace.
In the framework, the EPA stated, “For PBT PFAS that are expected to lead to exposure and environmental releases, and absent a critical or military need for the substance that necessitates limited and restricted manufacture while testing is ongoing, EPA generally expects that the substance would not be allowed to enter commerce before extensive testing is conducted on physical/chemical properties, toxicity and fate.”
If the EPA concludes that new chemicals could pose risks following its assessment, the agency “could require additional testing and risk mitigation before moving forward, or could prevent the substance from being manufactured at all.” It’s important to note, however, that the framework does not have legal implications for the EPA or manufacturers.
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