January 09, 2023
The EPA has released a new interactive webpage, called the “PFAS Analytic Tools
,” which provides information about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across the country. This information will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities. The PFAS Analytic Tools bring together multiple sources of information in one spot with mapping, charting, and filtering functions, allowing the public to see where testing has been done and what level of detections were measured.
“EPA’s PFAS Analytic Tools webpage brings together for the first-time data from multiple sources in an easy to use format,” said John Dombrowski, Director of EPA’s Office of Compliance. “This webpage will help communities gain a better understanding of local PFAS sources.”
EPA’s PFAS Analytic Tools draws from multiple national databases and reports to consolidate information in one webpage. The PFAS Analytic Tools includes information on Clean Water Act PFAS discharges from permitted sources, reported spills containing PFAS constituents, facilities historically manufacturing or importing PFAS, federally owned locations where PFAS is being investigated, transfers of PFAS-containing waste, PFAS detection in natural resources such as fish or surface water, and drinking water testing results. The tools cover a broad list of PFAS and represent EPA’s ongoing efforts to provide the public with access to the growing amount of testing information that is available.
Because the regulatory framework for PFAS chemicals is emerging, data users should pay close attention to the caveats found within the site so that the completeness of the data sets is fully understood. Rather than wait for complete national data to be available, EPA is publishing what is currently available while information continues to fill in. Users should be aware that some of the datasets are complete at the national level whereas others are not. For example, EPA has included a national inventory for drinking water testing at larger public water utilities. That information was provided between 2013-2016. To include more recent data, EPA also compiled other drinking water datasets that are available online in select states. For the subset of states and tribes publishing PFAS testing results in drinking water, the percentage of public water supplies tested varied significantly from state to state. Because of the differences in testing and reporting across the country, the data should not be used for comparisons across cities, counties, or states.
To improve the availability of the data in the future, EPA has published its fifth Safe Drinking Water Act Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule
to expand on the initial drinking water data reporting that was conducted in 2013-2016. Beginning in 2023, this expansion will bring the number of drinking water PFAS samples collected by regulatory agencies into the millions. EPA also significantly expanded the Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirements
in recent years to over 175 PFAS substances — and more information should be received in 2023. Additionally, EPA’s proposal to designate PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances
would also improve data on spill or release incidents reported to the Emergency Response Notification System. These reporting enhancements will be incorporated into future versions of the interactive webpage. EPA will continue working toward the expansion of data sets in the PFAS Analytic Tools as a way to improve collective knowledge about PFAS occurrence in the environment.
EPA Revises Risk Determination for Carbon Tetrachloride
A revised risk determination finalized by EPA on Dec. 27 finds that carbon tetrachloride “presents an unreasonable risk of injury to human health.” According to EPA, carbon tetrachloride is used in the production of refrigerants, chlorinated compounds, and agricultural products. Its use in consumer products was banned in 1970 by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Adverse human health effects from using carbon tetrachloride include cancer and chronic liver toxicity from long-term inhalation and dermal exposures as well as and liver toxicity from short-term dermal exposures. The severity of the health effects associated with exposures to carbon tetrachloride prompted EPA to use its “whole chemical risk determination approach” for the chemical rather than making separate risk determinations for individual conditions of use.
The revised risk determination for carbon tetrachloride does not assume that all workers exposed to the chemical always or properly wear personal protective equipment. This “reflects EPA’s recognition that certain subpopulations of workers exist that may be highly exposed” for a number of potential reasons, the agency explains in a press release
. For example, some workers could have increased exposure if they are not covered by OSHA standards or if the OSHA permissible exposure limit alone may be inadequate for ensuring that workers’ health is protected, which EPA states “is the case for carbon tetrachloride.”
OSHA’s construction and maritime industry PEL for carbon tetrachloride
is 10 ppm as an 8-hour time-weighted average, its acceptable ceiling concentration is 25 ppm, and its acceptable maximum peak above the acceptable ceiling concentration for an eight-hour shift is 200 ppm for a maximum duration of five minutes in any four hours.
EPA intends to begin a risk management rulemaking for carbon tetrachloride.
“[EPA] will strive for consistency with existing OSHA requirements or best industry practices when those measures would address the identified unreasonable risk,” the agency states. “EPA will propose occupational safety measures in the risk management process that would meet [the Toxic Substances Control Act’s] statutory requirement to eliminate unreasonable risk of injury to health and the environment.”
OSHA Highlights Physical Hazards in Shipyard Confined Spaces
A new OSHA fact sheet focuses on protecting workers in the maritime sector from physical hazards in confined spaces. The agency explains that hazards such as slippery and sloping working surfaces, corroded ladder rungs, moving or rotating equipment, obstructions, and elevated walking-working surfaces are common in confined spaces in this industry, and factors such as hot or cold conditions, poor lighting, and physically restrictive work areas can increase health and safety concerns. The fact sheet outlines measures employers can take to protect workers from falls, provide safe access to spaces, maintain adequate lighting, verify safe working conditions, and protect employees working alone.
OSHA stresses that employers must conduct a hazard assessment or job hazard analysis prior to any work activity in confined spaces. The agency encourages employers to consult shipyard competent persons, whose role is to ensure safe working conditions by determining whether a space is safe for workers to enter or perform hot work, when evaluating potential worker exposures. OSHA’s requirements regarding shipyard competent persons can be found on its website
The new fact sheet is available from OSHA as a PDF
. See the agency’s publications webpage
for additional OSHA resources.
EPA Proposes to Strengthen Air Quality Standards to Protect the Public from Harmful Effects of Soot
The EPA recently announced a proposal to strengthen a key national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution
, also known as PM2.5
, to better protect communities, including those most overburdened by pollution. Fine particles, sometimes called soot, can penetrate deep into the lungs and can result in serious health effects that include asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death – disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations including children, older adults, those with heart or lung conditions, as well as communities of color and low-income communities throughout the United States. These particles may be emitted directly from a source, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks, or fires; other particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industrial facilities, and vehicles.
EPA’s proposal will specifically take comment on strengthening the primary (health-based) annual PM2.5 standard from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a level between 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter, reflecting the latest health data and scientific evidence; the Agency is also taking comment on the full range (between 8 and 11 micrograms per cubic meter) included in the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) latest report.
“Our work to deliver clean, breathable air for everyone is a top priority at EPA, and this proposal will help ensure that all communities, especially the most vulnerable among us, are protected from exposure to harmful pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This proposal to deliver stronger health protections against particulate matter is grounded in the best available science, advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to scientific integrity and a rigorous scientific process.”
Since EPA completed its last review of the PM NAAQS in 2012, thousands of new scientific studies have demonstrated the dangers of soot exposure. Strengthening the primary annual PM2.5 standard is expected to address disparities and would result in significant public health benefits. EPA estimates that if finalized, a strengthened primary annual PM2.5 standard at a level of 9 micrograms per cubic meter, the lower end of the proposed range, would prevent:
- Up to 4,200 premature deaths per year;
- 270,000 lost workdays per year;
- And result in as much as $43 billion in net health benefits in 2032.
EPA will work closely with state, local, and Tribal air agencies to implement the revised primary annual PM2.5 standard when finalized.
EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. EPA will also conduct a virtual public hearing over several days for this proposed rulemaking, with the hearing beginning at 11:00 am Eastern Time and concluding at 7:00 pm ET each day. EPA will begin pre-registering speakers for the hearing upon publication of the announcement of the public hearings in the Federal Register. Additional information will also be made available on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM webpage
After reviewing comments, the Agency plans to issue final standards later this year.
Contractor Fined $136,000 for Stormwater Violations
The Washington Department of Ecology has settled a $136,000 penalty issued to Hamilton Excavating LLC for multiple construction stormwater
In the settlement, Hamilton agrees to pay a $25,000 fine, provide $90,000 to an Ecology-approved environmental project that will benefit water quality in the Lewis River watershed, and enroll at least one key employee in a stormwater compliance training course
. The environmental project must be completed within one year after approval and the stormwater compliance course requires completion by April 2023.
From November of 2020 to October of 2021, Ecology inspectors documented seven instances of polluted construction stormwater that found its way to a tributary of the East Fork Lewis River. Other ongoing permit violations included the non-submittal of Discharge Monitoring Reports, failure to notify Ecology of high sediment discharges, insufficient sediment controls, and destabilized soils and channels.
The East Fork Lewis River and its tributaries are home to Endangered Species Act-listed fish, including winter and summer steelhead, coho, chum, and fall chinook. Ecology, along with its public and private partners, have been working to improve water quality in the watershed through the East Fork Lewis River Partnership for Clean Water
Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water, debris, and chemicals into local waterways. Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction sites like the Highland Terrace Subdivision to get coverage under the Construction Stormwater General Permit.
Water quality penalty payments are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund
, which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.
Investigation of Fatal Equipment Rollover Incident Finds Texas Fencing Contractor Exposed Workers to Deadly Safety Hazards
A federal workplace safety investigation into how a 15-year-old worker tragically suffered fatal injuries while installing fencing in Guthrie has found the employer failed to follow required workplace safety standards.
OSHA inspectors went to the work site on July 6, 2022, and learned the teenager had been trapped under heavy equipment. They determined that Sheppard Farm and Ranch Services, LLC of Robert Lee had illegally modified a Caterpillar loader and failed to provide adequate training or personal protective equipment, such as a hard hat, gloves and safety glasses. The company also did not report the workplace fatality within 8 hours after it occurred, another violation for which OSHA issued a citation.
“This tragic event cut short a worker’s life before they reached adulthood,” said OSHA Area Director Elizabeth Linda Routh in Lubbock, Texas. “This deadly incident might have been prevented had legally required standards – proven methods for protecting workers from serious construction industry hazards – been followed.”
OSHA has proposed penalties of $20,512, amounts set by federal statute for five violations
EPA Reaches Settlement with San Diego-Based Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication, Inc.
The EPA recently announced that it has reached an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication Inc. over claims of Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its facility in San Diego, California. Under the terms of the AOC, the company will undertake several steps to prevent stormwater pollutants—particularly metals—from discharging into Chollas Creek, a tributary to San Diego Bay.
"By completing facility upgrades, Pacific Ship Repair is taking the necessary steps to prevent further metal exceedances in stormwater discharges
," said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. "Addressing pollution in stormwater is a vital part of the Clean Water Act. Enforcing noncompliance ensures safer, cleaner waterways."
Pollutants from industrial stormwater facilities, if not properly managed, can impact water quality and aquatic life. The CWA requires that certain industrial facilities obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to control the discharge of pollutants in stormwater runoff to water bodies. These facilities must develop and implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan to prevent stormwater runoff from carrying harmful pollutants into local water bodies.
The Chollas Creek has been identified as an impaired water under the CWA for metals, including copper and zinc. From 2016 to 2021, Pacific Ship Repair exceeded the applicable levels for copper and zinc in its stormwater drainage on four occasions. In July 2021, the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which is a numeric pollutant limit for water bodies that are impaired, became effective to protect the Chollas Creek. In the first half of 2022, Pacific Ship Repair had four additional exceedances, including the TMDL for both copper and zinc. In violation of its permit, Pacific Ship Repair has not implemented the Best Available Technology Economically Achievable to prevent toxic pollutants like copper and zinc from entering the Chollas Creek.
To settle EPA claims of violations, Pacific Ship Repair has agreed to:
- Resurface the entire facility
- Re-pipe the entire facility
- Continue all existing best management practices, repaint the roofs of building on the property, and increase industrial sweeping
Once these steps have been taken, Pacific Ship Repair will then be subject to a three-year monitoring period. If the facility exceeds permitted levels of pollutants for zinc or copper in its stormwater discharge during the monitoring period, it will be required to install onsite stormwater treatment unless it can show that the exceedances are caused solely by factors beyond the control of the owner.
EPA conducts inspections and takes enforcement actions as part of its mission to protect public health and the environment. EPA will monitor Pacific Ship Repair’s progress and take further action should the company fail to meet its obligations.
EPA Settles Clean Air Act Case with Polyurethane Facility
The EPA recently announced a settlement with Earth City, Missouri, polyurethane manufacturer Foam Supplies, Inc. to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule.
The settlement requires the company to pay a $7,398 civil penalty. The company also agreed to purchase no less than $35,500 in emergency response equipment to be donated to a local fire department.
"It is important that companies that handle dangerous chemicals comply with the safety requirements of the Clean Air Act,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “Through this enforcement action, Foam Supplies is now in compliance with those rules and local emergency responders have new equipment that will improve their ability to safely respond to chemical releases.”
According to EPA, the company stores over 10,000 pounds of methyl formate, a regulated flammable substance, and failed to comply with regulations intended to protect the surrounding community from accidental releases of regulated substances. Alleged violations included failure to submit a risk management plan and implement a hazard assessment. In response to EPA’s findings, Foam Supplies Inc. took the necessary steps to bring the facility into compliance.
The donated equipment will go to the Pattonville, Missouri, Fire Department. It includes gas detectors to help determine if the atmosphere is safe for entry by firefighters; air bags for rapid extrication of entrapped individuals; and new fire hoses. This project will improve the ability of the local emergency response team to detect and respond to releases of regulated substances.
The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule regulations require facilities that use regulated toxic and/or flammable substances to develop a Risk Management Plan that identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident; identifies steps a facility is taking to prevent an accident; and spells out emergency response procedures should an accident occur. These plans provide valuable information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.
EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. Approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur each year at regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place, or environmental damage. Many more accidents with lesser effects also occur, demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.
Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA, which identified this goal as one of seven National Compliance Initiatives in 2019.
- Learn more about the EPA’s National Compliance Initiatives
- Learn more about EPA’s Risk Management Plan Rule
EPA Issues Next Test Order Under National Testing Strategy for PFAS Used in Plastics, Chemical Manufacturing
The EPA recently issued the next Toxic Substances Control Act
(TSCA) test order requiring testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under EPA’s the National PFAS Testing Strategy
. The recent action orders companies to conduct and submit testing on trifluoro(trifluoromethyl)oxirane (HFPO), a perfluoroalkyl substance used in making plastics. This is the second test order under the strategy and the latest action taken under EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap
to confront contamination from forever chemicals nationwide.
The information EPA receives under this order will not only improve the Agency’s understanding of human health effects of HFPO, but also the effects of dozens of PFAS that are structurally similar to HFPO and in the same Testing Strategy category of PFAS, improving the agency’s overall data on PFAS.
“PFAS can pose a serious risk to communities, especially those overburdened with pollution, but many of these chemicals have limited or no toxicity data. That’s why we’re working quickly to establish stronger, more robust data on PFAS to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. “Communities deserve transparency from the companies that use or produce these substances and we’ll continue to use our data-gathering tools to collect information on the potential environmental and human health impacts of PFAS like HFPO.”
HFPO (CASRN 428-59-1) is used in making plastics and in organic chemical manufacturing. More than 1,000,000 pounds of HFPO are manufactured each year, according to TSCA Chemical Data Reporting
After thoroughly examining existing hazard and exposure data, EPA has concluded that HFPO may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The potential hazards from exposure to this chemical could include neurotoxicity, reproductive effects and cancer. EPA also found there is insufficient information to determine the effects on human health from inhalation of HFPO (which is a gas at room temperature). This test order will address this data need.
OSHA ‘Star’ Designation for Millstone Power Station Renewed
OSHA first recognized the Millstone Power Station in 2004 as a “star” site – the highest level of recognition that the agency’s Voluntary Protection Programs offers. The facility earned its latest VPP star renewal following an onsite evaluation in July 2022 by a team of OSHA safety and health experts.
Owned and operated by Dominion Energy, the Millstone Power Station employs about 1,200 workers, including 300 contractors, in Waterford. The power generation facility generates over 2,000 megawatts of electricity through its two nuclear reactor units to a central power distribution station for New England.
OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs
recognize and promote effective worksite-based safety and health management systems. In the VPP, management, labor and OSHA establish cooperative relationships at workplaces that have implemented comprehensive safety and health management systems. Approval into VPP is OSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding efforts of employers and employees who have created exemplary worksite safety and health management systems.
“The Millstone Power Station continues to maintain a high level of workplace safety and health,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “Management uses data and metrics to show employees and contractors how unsafe acts lead to more serious injuries. One outcome of this commitment to safety and health excellence is the site experiencing no serious injuries or illnesses during the past five years.”
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