Summary: H.R.535 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House (01/10/2020)

PFAS Action Act of 2019

This bill revises several environmental laws and requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFASs. These substances are man-made and may have adverse human health effects. A variety of products contain the compounds, such as nonstick cookware or weatherproof clothing.

(Sec. 2) The bill designates certain PFASs as hazardous substances, thereby requiring remediation of releases of PFASs into the environment. Within five years, the EPA must determine whether the remaining PFASs should be designated as hazardous substances, individually or in groups.

The bill exempts public agencies or private owners of public airports that receive federal funding from liability for remediation of certain releases of PFASs into the environment resulting from the use of aqueous film forming foam.

(Sec. 3) The EPA must require that comprehensive toxicity testing be conducted on all PFASs. These rules shall require the development of information by any person who manufactures, processes, or intends to manufacture or process a PFAS. The bill also provides guidelines for the development of these rules, including the methodologies and protocols to be used.

The bill revises when a PFAS may be exempt from testing or information submission and requires the EPA to publish a list of all exempt substances.

(Sec. 4) Currently, unless requirements for an exemption are met, persons planning to manufacture a chemical substance not listed on the EPA’s inventory list or manufacture or process a chemical substance for a significant new use must comply with certain notification requirements. The bill prohibits PFASs from being exempted from these requirements.

For five years, the EPA shall prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of a PFAS not listed on the EPA’s inventory list or the manufacture or processing of a PFAS for a significant new use.

(Sec. 5) The bill requires the EPA to promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for certain PFASs.

The EPA must publish a health advisory for a PFAS not subject to a national primary drinking water regulation.

(Sec. 6) The bill prohibits the EPA from imposing financial penalties for the first five years for a violation of a national primary drinking water regulation with respect to PFASs.

(Sec. 7) The EPA must establish a grant program to assist community water systems with the costs associated with treating water contaminated by a PFAS.

(Sec. 8) In relation to the regulation of toxic air pollutants, the EPA must (1) issue a final rule adding certain PFASs to the list of hazardous air pollutants, and (2) revise the list of air pollution sources within 365 days after issuing the rule to include categories and subcategories of major sources and area sources of PFASs. Within five years, the EPA must determine whether to issue a final rule adding the remaining PFASs to the list of hazardous air pollutants.

(Sec. 9) The EPA must regulate the disposal procedures for materials containing PFASs or aqueous film forming foam. For criminal penalty purposes, materials containing PFASs shall be considered hazardous waste.

(Sec. 10) The bill requires the EPA to (1) revise the Safer Choice Standard of the Safer Choice Program to identify the requirements that specified products (e.g., cooking utensils) must meet in order to be labeled with a Safer Choice label, including a requirement that any such product does not contain a PFAS; or (2) establish a voluntary label available for use by any manufacturer of any specified product that the EPA has reviewed and found does not contain any PFASs. The Safer Choice Program helps consumers and businesses find products with safer chemical ingredients through Safer Choice labels.

(Sec. 11) The EPA must issue guidance on minimizing the use by first responders of firefighting foam and other related equipment containing any PFASs, without jeopardizing firefighting efforts.

(Sec. 12) The EPA must investigate methods to prevent contamination by specified PFASs of surface waters, including those used for drinking water.

(Sec. 13) The bill requires an owner or operator of an industrial source that introduces PFASs into treatment works (systems that treat municipal sewage or industrial wastes) to provide specified notices to such treatment works, including the identity and quantity of such PFASs.

(Sec. 14) The EPA must establish a website containing specified information relating to the testing of household well water, including a list of certified laboratories that analyze samples.

(Sec. 15) The EPA must develop a risk-communication strategy to inform the public about the hazards of PFASs.

(Sec. 16) The bill authorizes the drinking water state revolving fund program to provide assistance to the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Guam to address emerging contaminants, with a focus on PFASs.

(Sec. 17) Finally, based on results of biennial reviews related to the discharge of PFASs from point sources that are not publicly owned treatment works, the EPA shall, for certain measureable PFASs, add the PFAS to the list of toxic pollutants, or establish effluent limitations and pretreatment standards.

Within two years of the enactment of this bill, the EPA must publish human health water quality criteria for certain PFASs.

The EPA shall award grants to owners and operators of publicly owned treatment works to help implement the pretreatment standards for PFASs developed by the EPA.