Grever & Klaus: PFAS Response May Foreshadow EPA’s Approach to Emerging Contaminants

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed plans to respond to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) could foreshadow the agency’s response in the future to emerging contaminants, according to a new article written by Shook Partner Tom Grever and Associate Kate Klaus.

Grever and Klaus co-authored an article titled "Emerging Regulation of Emerging Contaminants,” in the Winter 2023 issue of the American Bar Association’s quarterly Natural Resources & Environment magazine. The article discusses the current regulatory landscape around PFAS, a class of more than 9,000 chemicals used for decades in industrial and consumer products, and the potential future implications for other chemicals.

Grever and Klaus say that EPA’s articulated potential regulatory approaches to PFAS include novel actions that may in the future steer the regulation of other products once thought to be outside the scope of hazardous material regulation, including pharmaceuticals, personal care products, food additives and more. They say EPA’s approach to PFAS is noteworthy for those whose portfolios don’t include PFAS.

“Potential hazardous substance designations, reopeners, solid waste determinations, and endangerment findings could expand the reach of CERCLA and RCRA, with PFAS paving the way for more substances to come,” they said. “Each step on EPA’s Strategic Roadmap for PFAS may foreshadow what is waiting on the horizon for these products—and for those, still unknown, following behind them.”

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