Chemical trade group sues EPA over ‘forever chemical’ advisory

A trade group representing American chemical manufacturers has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over new nonbinding advisories for so-called toxic “forever chemicals.” 

In the complaint, announced Saturday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said new EPA advisories governing two forms of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contravene the agency’s own scientific integrity practices. 

“ACC supports the development of drinking water standards for PFAS based on the best available science. However, EPA’s revised Lifetime Health Advisories (LHAs) for PFOA and PFOS reflect a failure of the Agency to follow its accepted practice for ensuring the scientific integrity of its process,” the trade group said in a statement.

“While they are ‘non-regulatory levels,’ LHAs will have sweeping implications for policies at the state and federal levels. Getting the science right is of critical importance and we have an obligation to challenge these advisories based on the underlying science and the flawed process,” the statement continued. 

The two types of chemicals were the subject of a November draft announcement from the EPA indicating that both were hazardous at far lower levels than previously thought, and PFOA in particular is “likely” a carcinogen in humans. Both substances are found in drinking water, while PFOS has been detected in water- and stain-resistant products and PFOA has been found in cosmetics and non-stick crockery.   

The Biden administration has not announced any legally binding action on the chemicals, but the EPA under Administrator Michael Regan has identified PFAS regulation as a priority, and the EPA has announced a goal of 2023 for broader regulations on the two substances.

Regan has repeatedly emphasized environmental justice as a priority for the agency, and numerous cities in Regan’s native North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, have been confirmed by private testing to have levels of PFOA and PFOS above recommendations. 

An EPA spokesperson declined to comment to The Hill on pending litigation.