Environmental Law

Envt'l Law News VOLUME 31, NUMBER 1, SPRING/SUMMER 2022


Written by Alec D. Tyra1


Per-and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are the emerging environmental issue of the twenty-first century. PFAS are a broad class of synthetic compounds that exhibit persistent environmental presence. Exposure to these compounds lead to a host of adverse health effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer. In particular, the PFAS chemical compounds, Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), initially were ubiquitous in a variety of consumer products. However, major manufacturers phased out both PFOS and PFOA in the United States during the last two decades due to an increasing number of laboratory health assessments demonstrating their toxicity.2 New PFAS compounds were developed to replace PFOS and PFOA. The PFAS compounds that came to replace PFOS and PFOA are now under similar scrutiny after studies have determined that they present similar health risks.3 The result of decades of use is a proliferation of PFAS contamination in the environment.4

The proliferation of environmental contamination has spurred governmental action to regulate PFAS under the major environmental statutes.5 PFAS Regulation under these statutes—like the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Clean Air Act (CAA)-present new and significant liability to a wide range of industries. PFAS are ubiquitous in manufacturing, agribusiness, and construction. PFAS contamination also affects landowners, disposal sites, and water utilities who will ultimately need to address remediation efforts for soil and drinking water contamination.

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