EPA designates 2 ‘forever chemicals’ as hazardous

By Ellie Borst | 04/19/2024 01:46 PM EDT

The label will facilitate cleanups, said Administrator Michael Regan, but critics are vowing to fight it.

Michael Regan.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan during a hearing in 2023. Regan on Friday released the agency's latest rule on "forever chemicals." Jose Luis Magana/AP

EPA finalized a rule Friday giving the agency authority to make polluters pay for cleaning up two of the most notorious “forever chemicals,” a sweeping step that is sure to end up in litigation.

The final rule designates PFOA and PFOS — the most well-studied chemicals in the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, of PFAS — as hazardous under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund law.

This first-of-its-kind designation means EPA can now investigate and potentially list contaminated areas as Superfund sites. It also requires entities to report if they have released at least one pound of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) within a 24-hour period.


“Designating these chemicals under our Superfund authority will allow EPA to address more contaminated sites, take earlier action, and expedite cleanups, all while ensuring polluters pay for the costs to clean up pollution threatening the health of communities,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a news release.