DuPont De Nemours Inc. Sues EPA Regarding GenX Test Order

Earlier this year, the US Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit ordered EPA to provide documentation regarding the Agency’s decision to order DuPont De Nemours Inc. to provide information on GenX chemicals through two section 4 test orders under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). DuPont brought this case to challenge the testing requirements imposed on the company, asserting that EPA had incorrectly identified the company as a manufacturer of the chemicals identified in the test orders:  hexafluoropropylene oxide (also known as trifluoro(trifluoromethyl)oxirane) and 6:2 Fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine, two GenX chemicals. The test orders required testing on the inhalation effects toxicity of the chemicals in order to enable EPA to further understand protentional risks posed to human health and the environment. In addition to the cost of the toxicity studies, the manufacturers subject to the orders were assessed a fee of $11,650 to be split evenly amongst them.

After receiving the order to provide documentation, EPA requested several time extensions, but eventually stipulated to an agreement dismissing the case. The motion filed in May 2023 released DuPont from the test orders on 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine and hexafluoropropylene oxide. The Court then dismissed the case.

Vinyl Institute Seeks Judicial Review of EPA Test Order

Congress granted EPA new test order authority through the 2016 Lautenberg Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  In May 2022, EPA received its first legal challenge to this new authority from the Vinyl Institute.  The Vinyl Institute is a coalition of seven companies which manufacture a solvent, 1,1,2-trichloroethane, that EPA listed as a priority chemical in December 2019 and that is currently undergoing risk evaluation.  The Vinyl Institute is seeking judicial review of a test order for 1,1,2-trichloroethane, for an avian reproduction test.  Specifically, the petition to the DC Circuit Court argues that EPA has not adequately explained the need for the data.  1,1,2-trichloroethane is used as a solvent and an intermediate in the production of 1,1-dichloroethane.  During the risk prioritization process, the Agency determined that it had insufficient data on the substance to understand if it has the potential to harm wildlife and issued the test order.

The Vinyl Institute stated in their petition that the Test Rule is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.  It alleges that EPA failed to:

  • Adequately explain why the avian reproduction test is necessary,
  • Consider all available information and data for the substance,
  • Cite reliable and representative information and data in support of the Test Order,
  • Adequately justify the need for the test without first requiring screening level testing, and
  • Consider the relative costs of the Test protocols, along with availability of facilities and personnel to perform the testing.

As of this date, the parties have filed motions regarding whether additional submission may be made to the record.

EPA Evaluation of PFAS Leaching in Fluorinated Containers

On September 8, 2022, EPA announced findings of the Agency’s evaluation of PFAS leaching in fluorinated containers.  Specifically, the evaluation assessed the extent to which PFAS that are present in the packaging leach into the contents of the containers.  The study tested the leaching potential of PFAS over a 20-week test period into water, methanol and similar solutions that were packaged in different brands of HDPE fluorinated containers.  EPA undertook this evaluation after learning of PFAS contamination in some mosquitocide products, and after conducting a study of other pesticides stored in fluorinated high-density polyethylene containers.   In both cases the Agency found varying levels of PFAS in the contents of the containers.

The announcement reported that EPA has determined that any liquid products packaged in HDPE containers that have been treated with fluorination technology could be contaminated with PFAS, including water-based products.  The Agency also reported that the amount of PFAS that leach into the products could increase over time.   EPA noted that the Agency does not know if all fluorinated containers will leach PFAS because the Agency’s analysis did not test all the different fluorination technologies.

The announcement included a reminder that pesticide registrants must notify the Agency if they discover PFAS in any of their products.  Under FIFRA §6(a)(2) and 40 CFR §159.179, “additional factual information on unreasonable adverse effects, including metabolites, degradates and impurities (such as PFAS)” must be reported to EPA within 30 days after the registrant “first possesses or knows of the information.”  Note that the Agency considers any level of PFAS to be potentially toxicologically significant and therefore reportable.

The announcement also noted that in many cases, the manufacture of PFAS from the fluorination of polyolefins is subject to the Agency’s significant new use rule  for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylates (LCPFACs) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Companies must notify EPA at least 90 days before starting manufacturing or processing of these chemical substances for this significant new use.  TSCA requires significant new use notification in these situations to allow EPA review any associated risks and impose any needed protections.

Implementing Statutory Addition of Certain PFAS Substances to the Toxics Release Inventory Reporting

In July 2022, EPA released a final rule adding five PFAS to the list of chemicals required to be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). TRI tracks the management of certain toxic chemicals that may pose a threat to human health or the environment and provides this information to the public. Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), EPA is required to automatically add PFAS to the TRI whenever it takes one of the following actions:

  • EPA finalizes a toxicity value for a PFAS or class of PFAS;
  • EPA determines that a PFAS or a class of PFAS is covered by a TSCA Significant New Use Rule (SNUR);
  • EPA adds PFAS or a class of PFAS to an existing SNUR; or
  • EPA finds that a PFAS or class of PFAS is active in commerce (under TSCA Section 8).

Under this rule, facilities in specific industry sectors that manufacture, process, distribute, or use any of the five PFAS added to the TRI, must submit a TRI report if they exceed the PFAS reporting threshold of 100 pounds. Four of the substances are added to the list effective January 1, 2022, and the remaining substance is effective January 1, 2021, meaning TRI reporting due in 2023 must account for these substances.

EPA Proposes to Stop Authorized Use of Certain PFAS in Pesticide Products

EPA is proposing to remove 12 PFAS substances from the current list of inert ingredients approved for use in pesticide products. Under EPA’s 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap the Agency is reviewing substances approved as inert ingredients in pesticides and potentially taking action to limit their use. Inert ingredients in pesticides serve to increase effectiveness and product performance including improving the ease of pesticide application and extending shelf life.

The 12 chemical substances proposed for removal are no longer in any registered pesticide product, but EPA believes it is important to remove these chemicals.  This means that a review of available information for these chemicals would be required for their future use in pesticide products. In discussing the proposal Michal Freedhoff, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention stated, “ensuring that these 12 chemicals can no longer be used in pesticides is an important step to protect workers, the public, and our planet from unnecessary PFAS exposure.”

CoverGirl Cosmetics and Coty Inc PFAS Suit

CoverGirl Cosmetics and Coty Inc. are facing a class action lawsuit for marketing their TruBlend Pressed Powder as sustainable and safe while allegedly it contained PFAS.  The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.  According to the complaint, independent lab testing found that the product contained increased fluorine levels, an indicator of the presence of PFAS.   The complaint also notes that defendants misrepresent the product in their marketing materials which state that they hold themselves to the highest quality standards when it comes to safety and efficacy of their products.  Plaintiffs argued that these acts violate the California Unfair Competition Law and the California False Advertising Law, and constitute fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

The plaintiff asserts that the presence of PFAS is a concern because PFAS exposure through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact can result in PFAS entering the body. The makeup in question is applied directly to the face and is prolonged skin contact.  Plaintiff contends that PFAS are present at a greater concentration than recommended by the current EPA health advisory limit for safe consumption.

FDA Rejects Phthalate Petition

On May 19, 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has denied two petitions to ban phthalates in food packaging.  In conjunction with denying the petitions, the FDA accepted a petition requesting that the Agency stops authorizing 23 phthalates for use in food containers as they are no longer used by industry.

In addition to being in food containers, phthalates are used as additives in cosmetics, detergents, and shower curtains.  Industry often uses them to soften plastics.  Although allowed in many products, the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act bans a concentration of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP); dibutyl phthalate (DBP); or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) in all children’s toy and childcare articles.  Being exposed to concentrated amounts of phthalates can cause reproductive and developmental issues.

Multiple groups, including the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice, have petitioned the FDA in the last decade to block the authorization of phthalates in food packaging, but the petitions have always failed, with the FDA citing a lack of information to justify blocking authorization of phthalates.

FDA’s acceptance of the petition to stop authorizing certain phthalates was due to the industry no longer using those substances. As the industry has abandoned use of those phthalates, the FDA found it appropriate to stop their authorization.  Currently, there are eight phthalates that the FDA still authorizes.  Shortly after the FDA’s announcement, they issued a request for information regarding current uses, levels, dietary exposure, and safety data for those phthalates.

PFAS From Certain Plastic Can Violate Chemicals Law, EPA Says

Earlier this year, EPA released a letter to manufacturers, processors, distributors, users, and those that dispose of fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE), informing them of possible violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  EPA determined through recent testing that certain PFAS have unintentionally formed during or following the process of fluorinating polyolefins. Manufacturers and processors of fluorinated polyolefins modify polymers with fluorine to create high-performance barriers.  These barriers are then used in the storage and transport of various products to keep the product inside the container without notable permeation.  During some methods of fluorination, such as in the presence of oxygen, PFAS can occur as a byproduct.

EPA first noticed the unintentional formation of PFAS in containers used in storing and transporting pesticides, and it is researching whether this problem occurs in other HDPE products. This effort to restrict human health and environmental exposure to PFAS is one of many steps the Agency has outlined in its PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

EPA’s letter reminds the HDPE industry that certain long-chain PFAS are subject to a TSCA Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) (See 40 CFR § 721.10536). Generally, chemical substances created during the manufacturing process that does not have a separate commercial purpose are considered byproducts and are exempt from SNUR requirements under 40 CFR § 721.45(e). But certain long-chain PFAS byproducts produced during the manufacture of fluorinated polyolefins do not meet the requirements of the byproducts exemption and therefore require a SNUR. These rules require the manufacturer to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the manufacture (including import) or processing of these chemicals for significant new use.

The Agency encourages the industry to review the relevant regulations at 40 CFR § 721. Any questions on the topic can be directed to the Existing Chemicals Risk Management Division in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics at

Chlorpyrifos Food Tolerance Revoked  

Earlier this year, EPA denied all objections to and hearing requests for a rule that terminates the use of the chlorpyrifos pesticide on food crops. As a result of the new rule, producers may no longer apply any chlorpyrifos to food or feed products, although there is an exemption for farmers to use the pesticide on certain exported food products.

Following its registration in 1965, farmers have used chlorpyrifos as an insecticide on food crops such as soybeans, corn, fruit and nut trees, and vegetables. It has also been used for agricultural purposes such as cattle ear tags, poultry houses, turkey, swine, and dairy barns.

There is significant potential for the pesticide to cause neurological effects, particularly in pregnant women and children. Children who are exposed to chlorpyrifos may experience lifelong intellectual disabilities and lowered IQ levels. Farmworkers who use the pesticide or work in fields where the pesticide has been used are also at increased risk of adverse health effects from exposure with including effects on the nervous system such as headaches, blurred vision, muscle weakness, and seizures. The chemical has been the focus of environmental advocacy groups because of its toxicity to wildlife, particularly birds, fish, aquatic vertebrates, and bees. For example, these groups argue that the chemical impacts the health and existence of nearly 1,400 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2000, the EPA banned chlorpyrifos for residential indoor use but continued allowing the use of these chemicals on food products. In 2014 and 2016, the EPA published data confirming that all toddlers were being exposed to chlorpyrifos at levels 140 times greater than the Agency had determined was safe.  However, the Agency did not take actions to limit chlorpyrifos pesticide use at that time. In 2017, the EPA again failed to take action to ban chlorpyrifos. The Agency decision argued that additional scientific evidence was needed. Meanwhile, beginning in 2019, some states banned or restricted the use of chlorpyrifos, including California, Maryland, New York, and Hawaii. In recent years, many toxic torts lawsuits have been filed against chlorpyrifos manufacturers and distributors. Many of these cases are still ongoing.

The EPA’s current final rule banning chlorpyrifos in food was issued in response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ order directing the EPA to issue a final rule after the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America filed a petition with the Court. These organizations had previously petitioned the Agency for a ban, which was denied under the Trump administration in 2017 and again in 2019, leading to its Ninth Circuit challenge. EPA administrator Michael S. Regan addressed the delay in EPA’s action against the chemical, stating, “[t]oday EPA is taking an overdue step to protect public health. Ending the use of chlorpyrifos on food will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected from the potentially dangerous consequences of this pesticide.”

Flame Retardant Rule Do-Over Sought By EPA Granted in Federal Case

On June 23, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted EPA a request for voluntary remand on a risk management rule for decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE).  This allows EPA to reconsider the rule at issue and make changes they deem necessary.  DecaBDE is a flame retardant added to the plastics used in many products on the market, such as televisions, computers, and upholstered articles. The January 2021 risk management rule prohibits manufacturing or importing decaBDE for all products after February 28, 2022, 60 days after the publication of the final rule.  The rule gives the hospital curtain industry 18 months to come into compliance, and 3 years for new aerospace vehicles. Replacement parts for motor and aerospace vehicles were granted an exclusion from the prohibition of manufacturing, processing, and distribution of decaBDE.

Petitioners opposing EPA in this matter are a coalition consisting of the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Yurok Tribe, the Consumer Federation of America, Learning Disabilities Association of America, and the Center for Environmental Transformation.  the coalition, argues that EPA has had more than a year to review unidentified provisions of the final rule.  The coalition also asserts that EPA’s Final Rule is inadequate because it lacks 1) risk management measure to reduce exposure of decaBDE generally, 2) an exclusion for unrestricted recycling of plastics containing decaBDE, and 3) restrictions on releases of the chemical to the air, water, or land.

In 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had also granted EPA’s request to revisit two other chemical risk evaluations, including the one for hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD which is also a flame retardant).  Along with granting EPA’s request to reconsider the rule, the Ninth Circuit denied the petitioners request to impose deadlines on the reconsideration and potential amendment of the rule.