The Environmental Protection Agency said June 24 it will launch its own testing of a processing aid used to make fluoropolymers, after it was unable to agree with industry on how to structure joint tests.
The agency will test how telomers, small compounds used in firefighting foams and water-repellent coatings, break down, and whether that process releases perfluorooctanoic acid into the environment.
EPA and industry are trying to develop consensus regulations on PFOA as part of its use in telomers and in fluoropolymers. The two sides said they would continue to work together. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington watchdog organization, applauded EPA's decision.
On the fluoropolymer side, Washington-based EPA and industry said they are moving forward with joint fluoropolymer testing and hope to unveil their plan for monitoring and regulating PFOA by mid-August. The two sides have been meeting for more than a year.
The consensus process, which is unusual for EPA, to date has not worked as well as initially hoped. EPA, industry and environmental groups had hoped to develop an ``enforceable consent agreement'' that would be legally binding on industry, but that has been scrapped in favor of a ``memorandum of understanding'' that is not a legal commitment.
While some members of the public and local water officials near fluoropolymer plants favor a legally binding agreement, EPA said the process still will provide thorough testing and answer questions about PFOA exposure.