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Regulatory Compliance, AHFA

Summit Aims to Bring Clarity to PFAS Reporting

Textile colors and patterns are not the only trends top of mind for fabric producers and upholstery manufacturers this summer. Trends in PFAS regulation have become a new concern.

It’s not the chemical bans popping up state by state that present a challenge – textile leaders in the residential market all say they have removed this class of chemicals from their performance fabric offerings. It’s the reporting requirements that promise to create headaches for the industry.

AHFA’s 2024 Regulatory Summit – slated August 7-8 at the Guilford Technical Community College Conference Center – dedicates five sessions to issues involving per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which collectively go by the acronym PFAS. The common link among these substances – an estimated 15,000 of them – is a special bond of carbon and fluorine atoms that make them strong and resistant to heat, water, dirt and oil.

It’s that last property – resistance to oil – that made them popular within the residential textile market, first for outdoor fabrics exposed to oily sunscreen products, then for indoor fabrics destined for households with pets and messy families. (The high-end design market also loved them, leading to a steady parade of stark white interiors over the last decade.)  

But last September the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule requiring PFAS reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Companies that have manufactured or imported any type of consumer product containing PFAS since January 2011, are subject to this new reporting rule.

“We have assembled top scientific and legal experts for a focused look at PFAS reporting regulations,” notes AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue. “If you want to understand the EPA’s mandate – what it means, its background and where it’s headed – and what that means for your company, you cannot miss this year’s Summit.”

PFAS-focused presenters include:

  • Heather Stapleton, distinguished professor, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. The Stapleton Lab at Duke University has become heavily involved in PFAS research and is working on projects in North Carolina to test drinking water sources, as well as the blood of study participants, for specific PFAS chemicals. Dr. Stapleton is also leading the efforts to test for PFAS in upholstered furniture.
  • Martha Marrapese, partner with Wiley Rein in Washington, D.C. She is a leading legal and policy advisor who frequently consults on chemical issues under TSCA. She will shed light on the EPA’s reporting rule, its background and where it is leading.
  • William Troutman, partner with Norton Rose Fulbright in Los Angeles. Troutman’s practice focuses on product safety, environmental issues and compliance. He’ll wade through the ambiguities in the EPA’s reporting rule as it applies to imported “articles” – with the goal of helping attendees come up with a PFAS reporting game plan.
  • Noelle Wooten, shareholder at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Charlotte. Wooten’s practice centers on environmental and consumer product litigation, regulation and compliance. She will close the Summit by tying up the loose ends in the PFAS discussion and offering attendees practical suggestions for preparing for a future of chemical-focused compliance obligations.

An additional PFAS session features a panel of experts involved on an ASTM International subcommittee developing a standard for PFAS testing.

The entire two-day Summit agenda, along with speaker profiles and registration details are on the 2024 Regulatory Summit event website. Registration is just $225 for AHFA members and includes a light breakfast and lunch both days, plus a cocktail reception/meet-and-greet with keynote speaker Commissioner Peter Feldman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.