California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has published a notice of intent to list Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as developmental toxicants under Proposition 65.
The agency is proposing the action under the authoritative bodies listing mechanism which adopts the findings of several federal environmental and health agencies. OEHHA is basing its listing proposal on the U.S. EPA’s findings on the substances in a trio of recent reports.
The proposal to list the chemicals – and their respective salts follows the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DART-IC) designation of each chemical as a high priority for preparation of hazard identification materials for consideration by the committee members.
PFOA and PFOS are surfactants that have been used in a variety of consumer products, including carpets, textiles, leather, non-stick cookware, and paper coatings used in food packaging, to confer stain, grease and water resistance. PFOA is used in the production of fluoropolymers. PFOA and PFOS are generated as degradation products of other perfluorinated compounds.
Several industry groups advised against the prioritization of PFOA and PFOS, arguing that the resources necessary to prepare hazard identification materials were not merited, given that the substances were due to have been phased out under an EPA stewardship program by the end of 2015.
But several consumer advocacy groups highlighted scientific evidence linking the chemicals to adverse human health effects and urged they be taken up.
The EPA has proposed a significant new use rule (Snur) to codify the voluntary phase out, but it has not been finalized.
The chemicals have been linked to drinking water contamination. In May U.S. EPA established health advisories for PFOA and PFOS based on the agency’s assessment of the latest peer-reviewed science to provide drinking water system operators, and state, tribal and local officials who have the primary responsibility for overseeing these systems, with information on the health risks of these chemicals, so they can take the appropriate actions to protect their residents. EPA is committed to supporting states and public water systems as they determine the appropriate steps to reduce exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. As science on health effects of these chemicals evolves, EPA will continue to evaluate new evidence.
To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, EPA has established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion.
The health advisory level offers a margin of protection for children regardless of age. The health advisory levels are based on developmental effects to a fetus or breast fed infant resulting from exposures that occur during pregnancy and lactation (nursing) and are also protective, over a lifetime of exposure to drinking water at these levels, for all other health effects (non-cancer and cancer).
EPA included PFOA and PFOS among the contaminants for which water systems are required to monitor under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) in 2012. Results of this monitoring effort can be found on the publicly-available National Contaminant Occurrence Database (NCOD). EPA updates the information approximately quarterly.
According to the U.S. EPA, Most Americans have been exposed to these chemicals through consumer products, but drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Between 2000 and 2002, PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the U.S. by its primary manufacturer. In 2006, eight major companies voluntarily agreed to phase out their global production of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals, although there are a limited number of ongoing uses.
Scientists have found PFOA and PFOS in the blood of nearly all the people they tested, but these studies show that the levels of PFOA and PFOS in blood have been decreasing over time.
Public Comments can on OEHHA’s proposed listing can be submitted to: Michelle Ramirez
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
P.O. Box 4010, MS-12B
Sacramento, California 95812-4010
Fax: (916) 323-2265
Street Address: 1001 I Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Comments transmitted by e-mail should be addressed to: P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov(link sends e-mail) with “NOIL – PFOA and PFOS” in the subject line. The deadline to submit public comments is October 17, 2016.