On October 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published an update to a rule, originally proposed in December 2022, that eliminates a key exemption related to Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Now that the exemption removal is finalized, TRI reports will need to reflect this change for the 2024 submittal, which will be due on July 1, 2025.
Primary impacts of TRI reporting rule update
Since the 2020 reporting year, facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use PFAS-listed chemicals have been required to prepare threshold determination calculations for these chemicals to ascertain if one or more PFAS-listed chemicals meet or exceed the applicable 100-pound annual reporting threshold. Since that time, low concentrations of TRI-listed PFAS in mixtures have been eligible for the de minimis exemption, which means they were not required to be included in threshold calculations. With the EPA’s recent update to the rule, facilities will no longer be able to use the de minimis exemption for PFAS-listed chemicals starting in the 2024 reporting year, even if facilities have been able to do so under previous reporting years. For example, if a facility uses fire suppressants that contain one or more PFAS-listed chemicals at concentrations less than de minimis levels, the facility will now need to account for those lower concentrations beginning with the 2024 reporting year.
The updated rule also eliminates a reporting exemption previously available to suppliers and manufacturers of products that contain PFAS at concentrations below certain levels. This exemption elimination is intended to prevent the use of proprietary and trade-secret protections to mask the presence of PFAS in products. While this change may make identification of the presence or absence of PFAS easier using safety data sheets (SDSs), facilities might find ways to circumnavigate parts of it, making the updated rule less effective. For example, PFAS in certain products may be identified using atypical synonyms in the place of more common names. It is also possible that the PFAS used in the product may not be included as part of a standard analytical list or may not be subject to current regulatory criteria (but may be included as part of future regulatory actions). Additionally, SDS documentation impacted by the new rule may not be updated immediately, and old documentation may linger for several years before it is updated to be compliant. While the elimination of this exemption is intended to help manufacturers obtain the necessary information for TRI reporting, the potential ways to circumnavigate the reporting rules and outdated SDS documentation may still present a challenge for industrial sources that are evaluating PFAS concentrations through their vendor supply chain to comply with the updated reporting rule.
Getting started on 2024 TRI reporting
What does all this mean? To summarize, the first step to prepare for the 2024 reporting year is to identify any mixtures previously excluded from the threshold determination process due to the de minimis exemption. Then identify the PFAS concentrations in the listed mixtures. While these steps may sound straightforward, identifying potential sources of PFAS and deciphering SDS documentation can be a challenging endeavor.
With nearly two decades of experience with PFAS-related concerns, Barr’s PFAS team can help you review and interpret SDS documentation to identify potential sources of PFAS in products used in your manufacturing or operational stream. We’ll work closely with you to identify potential products that may contain, or are likely to contain, PFAS as part of their composition to keep your company informed about your waste stream or end-user products.
Contact our team of PFAS experts for additional information or learn more about Barr’s PFAS services.
About the authors
Adam Driscoll, vice president and senior environmental engineer, has more than 15 years of experience with environmental permitting and compliance, primarily involving petroleum refining, mining, power generation, and manufacturing. He spent three of those years working for a global manufacturing corporation, where he acquired critical experience with environmental permitting, led cross-functional EHS audits, and negotiated issues of noncompliance with regulatory agencies. Adam serves as leader for Barr’s PFAS service offerings and monitors pertinent regulatory updates to inform clients of significant changes and how they apply to them. Adam has also assisted clients in negotiating conditions related to PFAS emissions into Title V air quality permits.
Kim Hand, senior regulatory compliance specialist, has more than 35 years of experience in environmental management and health and safety, including nine years at an industrial manufacturing facility. She assists fuels, power, mining, manufacturing, and research and development industries, as well as local, state, and federal governments. Her work encompasses environmental reporting and compliance, development of chemical management systems, training, and environmental compliance auditing. Kim is also a TRI subject matter expert and has assisted clients in determining TRI applicability of TRI-listed PFAS chemicals.
Michael Dupay, senior environmental scientist, has 15 years of environmental experience, including data evaluation and QA/QC. He also leverages multivariate statistics for large data sets for the fuels industry and Canadian oil sands clients, at mining operations and sites with per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) impacts, and to assist with source identification at environmental remediation sites. Michael has also participated in bench-scale testing to test project hypotheses, helped develop standard operating procedures for data validation, and served as a laboratory liaison for field team members and project managers.