What are PFAS? (From the USA EPA Website)
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. T+here is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
PFAS can be found in:
- Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
- Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
- Workplaces, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
- Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
- Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.
Why Do PFAS Matter to You?
California has recently begun to direct (by legal order) investigations into potential sources of PFAS in soil and water using the State’s EPA Agency called the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRQCB). Investigations were begun at airports where fire retardants that may have contained PFAS were used. They have now extended the directives to plating facilities and have placed the burden of responding upon the owners of properties or the operators of facilities. The Reynolds Group can provide technical assistance to you if you are subject to a directive order from the government.
How The Reynolds Group Can Help You?
You may be a plating operation that has recently received a “13267 and 13383” legal order in a letter (see link here) from the State of California Water Board that requires you respond about potential PFAS at your facility by either:
- filling out a form (Attachment 2) stating/documenting that the plating operation never used “PFAS” (polyflouroalkyl substances) or
- performing a series of actions that lead to an intrusive investigation of the facility.
The background and nature of the Water Board’s per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances inquiries are detailed in their letter.
We are empathetic to your shock at this request to impose additional costs and potential liabilities on your property and your response to perhaps avoid undertaking any work. The Reynolds Group can refer you to legal counsel who can potentially help you mount a defense against performing the work if you choose to go that route.
However, The Reynolds Group also has over 30 years of experience performing the work in the Water Boards purview as required in “2)” above. We can:
- interact in a technical capacity with the Water Board
- create work plans,
- perform site investigations,
- and compile the results of investigations under the Water Boards’ oversight.
In addition, for eligible parties, we have been able to work to tender old insurance policies or find available State funds to undertake such work such as the Site Clean-Up Account Program (SCAP).