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.