Regulating PFAS as a Chemical Class under the California Safer Consumer Products Program

By Bălan, Simona Andreea, Vivek Chander Mathrani, Dennis Fengmao Guo, and André Maurice Algazi
Environ Health Perspect
February 22, 2021
DOI: 10.1289/EHP7431

Background: Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom. The widespread use, large number, and diverse chemical structures of PFAS pose challenges to any sufficiently protective regulation, emissions reduction, and remediation at contaminated sites. Regulating only a subset of PFAS has led to their replacement with other members of the class with similar hazards, that is, regrettable substitutions. Regulations that focus solely on perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) are ineffective, given that nearly all other PFAS can generate PFAAs in the environment.

Objectives: In this commentary, we present the rationale adopted by the State of California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) for regulating PFAS as a class in certain consumer products.

Discussion: We at the California DTSC propose regulating certain consumer products if they contain any member of the class of PFAS because: a) all PFAS, or their degradation, reaction, or metabolism products, display at least one common hazard trait according to the California Code of Regulations, namely environmental persistence; and b) certain key PFAS that are the degradation, reaction or metabolism products, or impurities of nearly all other PFAS display additional hazard traits, including toxicity; are widespread in the environment, humans, and biota; and will continue to cause adverse impacts for as long as any PFAS continue to be used. Regulating PFAS as a class is thus logical, necessary, and forward-thinking. This technical position may be helpful to other regulatory agencies in comprehensively addressing this large class of chemicals with common hazard traits. 


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