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Press Statement

EPA announces final rule to designate two PFAS as “hazardous substances”

The rule will make it easier to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their toxic contamination

Safer States and Toxic-Free Future applaud this important step while urging EPA to take the next step and list all PFAS as hazardous under Superfund

WASHINGTON, DC⸺Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule to designate two PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), as “hazardous substances” under the federal program, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), known as “Superfund.” According to the EPA, this action “would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.” This rule follows the EPA’s finalized drinking water standards for six individual PFAS “forever chemicals” and its announcement of a requirement to use PFAS-free cleaning products in federal buildings.

EPA’s commitment comes after years of action on PFAS by states and leading retailers nationwide. As part of efforts to hold PFAS polluters accountable, more than half of US State Attorneys General have initiated legal action against the chemical manufacturers and key users to secure resources for cleanup.

Currently, at least eight state governments have added PFAS to their state’s hazardous substances regulations, including AK, DE, MA, NJ, NY, RI, WA, VT. Actions taken by these states vary from guidance to cleanup standards. Washington State added the entire class of PFAS to its hazardous substance policy while other states have targeted specific PFAS compounds including PFOA and PFOS.

Safer States and Toxic-Free Future applaud the CERCLA liability rule for these PFAS chemicals and state that PFAS are too harmful to be put into commerce. The following statements were released in response to this news.

“For years, communities that have been exposed to these chemicals have been demanding that polluters be held accountable for the harm they have created and to pay for cleanup,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “States will continue to act to reduce use of PFAS and cleanup contamination. This new EPA action will complement state actions and make it easier to hold them accountable and clean up contaminated sites. We applaud EPA for taking this step and encourage them to take the next step and list all PFAS under the Superfund law.”

“EPA’s action is an important step forward that will go a long way toward holding PFAS polluters accountable and beginning to clean up contaminated sites across the country,” said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the federal policy program of Toxic-Free Future. “Until we declare the full class of PFAS hazardous and prevent further pollution by ending the use of all PFAS chemicals in common products like food packaging and firefighting gear, communities will continue to pay the price with our health and tax dollars.”


Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. These toxic compounds are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS has been found in breast milk and in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they persist and don’t break down in the environment. Research has found that 3M knew in the 1970s that PFOA and PFOS are dangerous.

State PFAS hazardous substance actions: At least eight state governments (AK, DE, MA, NJ, NY, RI, WA, VT) have added PFAS to their state’s hazardous substances regulations. Actions taken by these states vary from guidance to cleanup standards. Washington State added the entire class of PFAS to its hazardous substance policy while other states have targeted specific PFAS compounds including PFOA and PFOS. Maine has determined that PFAS substances will be listed as Hazardous Substances under state law when PFAS substances are designated as Hazardous Substances pursuant to CERCLA.

PFAS in drinking water: State governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to establish standards such as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for certain PFAS in drinking water. Eleven states (ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WI and WA) have established these standards. Maine has an interim standard that is in effect and enforceable while they go through rule-making to establish final PFAS MCLs. Delaware and Virginia have also begun the process of establishing enforceable standards for certain PFAS. Twelve additional states (AK, CA, CT, CO, HI, IL, MD, MN, NC, NM, OH and OR) have adopted guidance, health advisory, or notification levels for certain PFAS chemicals.

PFAS in products: State governments are also taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME, MN, and WA have given state agencies the authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Twelve states including CA, CO, CT, HI, ME, MD, MN, NY, OR, RI, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Eight states including CA, CO, ME, MD, MN, NY, VT, and WA have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs, aftermarket treatments, and/or upholstered furniture. CA and NY adopted restrictions on PFAS in apparel and CO adopted restrictions on oil and gas products. CA, CO, OR, and MN are phasing out PFAS in children’s products, and MN and VT have banned PFAS in ski wax. MN and ME also restricted PFAS in menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, cookware, and dental floss. Seven states including CA, CO, MD, ME, MN, OR, and WA are taking action to eliminate PFAS in cosmetics. Thirteen states including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, ME, MD, MN, NH, NJ, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Retailers restricting PFAS: Retailers are also aligning with state-level efforts to regulate PFAS in products, adopting comprehensive policies to phase out these hazardous chemicals, according to the Retailer Report Card. Target has committed to eliminating PFAS from a wide array of its products, spanning textiles, cosmetics, and cookware. Leading brands like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Patagonia are actively reducing PFAS in textiles. Lowe’s and The Home Depot have committed to stop selling PFAS-containing carpets and rugs, with Lowe’s discontinuing PFAS-laden fabric protection sprays. More than a dozen grocery and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Ahold Delhaize, and Whole Foods Market have adopted policies restricting PFAS in food packaging. The leading electronics brand Apple announced plans to phase PFAS out of its products and manufacturing processes and to develop safer alternatives. IKEA was one of the first major retailers to ban PFAS in its products globally. Currently, over 30 major retailers with more than 160,000 stores and more than $770 billion in sales have committed to eliminating or reducing PFAS in food packaging, textiles, cosmetics, and/or other products.


Safer States is a national alliance of environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation working to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals, and to ensure availability of safer solutions for a healthier world. Led by state-based organizations, the alliance seeks government and corporate action that lead to safer chemicals and materials, and protection of public health and communities by transitioning away from harmful chemicals and holding chemical polluters accountable.


Toxic-Free Future is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.



Stephanie Stohler

[email protected]

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