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What EPA must do now that 3M announced it will no longer make PFAS “forever chemicals”

When 3M announced last month that it would end sales and use of PFAS chemicals by the end of 2025, we cautiously applauded the move. While the company is taking a step in the right direction, 3M must be held accountable for cleaning up its pollution in communities and must commit to only making the safest chemicals and products moving forward. 

3M has not yet identified which PFAS chemicals it is selling and using, leaving open the troubling possibility that other companies could begin production and sales.

This is where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must step in.

EPA should use its authority to obtain from 3M a full list of all currently manufactured or processed PFAS that will be phased out by the end of 2025, and to identify the production volumes and uses of these substances. 

EPA can then identify which of these toxic chemicals are either produced in the U.S. or imported by other companies. Where 3M is the only manufacturer/importer, the EPA will be able to designate production or import of the PFAS as a “significant new use” under section 5 of TSCA. This will prevent other companies from beginning production or import without submitting a “significant new use” notice to EPA, enabling it to ban or restrict the proposed new use. 

EPA should also provide the public with information about the chemicals 3M will be transitioning to in light of  the company’s track record.

The sooner EPA issues a proposal, the more effective its final rule will be.

Twenty national, state, and local groups joined us in submitting a letter to EPA on January 26, 2023 urging this action.

3M’s withdrawal from PFAS production should be a signal to the rest of industry to phase out these dangerous chemicals. We urge EPA to prevent continued PFAS pollution by stopping other companies from initiating or increasing production of the PFAS that 3M is promising to no longer manufacture.