The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered packaging barrier maker Inhance Technologies LLC to stop using its fluorination coating process on plastic containers, saying that it produces three "highly toxic" PFAS chemicals that can contaminate drinking water.
Houston-based Inhance, however, called the Dec. 1 EPA decision a "significant overreach" and said the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances produced from its fluorination coating of high density polyethylene bottles are unintended by-products and are not a threat to human health or the environment.
But EPA said that the persistence and toxicity of the so-called "forever chemicals" at minute levels means that Inhance needs to stop its coating manufacturing as long as it produces any of the three PFAS chemicals: perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorononanoic acid and perfluorodecanoic acid.
"PFAS should not be in plastic containers people use every day, period," said Michal Freedhoff, EPA's assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement.
The EPA order comes after the federal government sued Inhance in 2022 alleging its coating process, which is used on containers for household consumer goods, pesticides, fuels, automotive and industrial products, is a risk.
That lawsuit, in turn, came after several groups, including the Center for Environmental Health and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, gave formal notice to EPA that they planned to file a private lawsuit seeking EPA action under the Toxic Substances Control Act.