January 14, 2020

Toxics Use Reduction Institute Science Advisory Board Meeting Minutes

January 14th, 2020

DEP, 1 Winter Street, Boston

12:30 PM


Members Present: Dave Williams (Chair), Robin Dodson (Vice Chair), Hilary Hackbart, Wendy Heiger-Bernays, Christy Foran, Christine Rioux, Heather Lynch, Denise Kmetzo, Rich Gurney


Members not present: Amy Cannon, Ken Weinberg


Program staff present: Liz Harriman (TURI), Heather Tenney (TURI), Hayley Byra (TURI), John Raschko (OTA), Tsedash Zewdie (MassDEP), Tiffany Skogstrom (OTA), Rich Bizzozero (OTA), Hardiesse Dicka-Bessonneau (MassDEP)


Others present: Katherine Robertson (MCTA), Steve Korzeniowski (Fluorocouncil/ACC), Carol Holahan (Foley Hoag ACC), Trisha McCarthy (Coyne PC for ACC)


Welcome & Introductions

Heather introduced the newest member of the Science Advisory Board, Rich Gurney, a green chemist from Simmons University. Dr. Gurney has a PhD in organic chemistry from Purdue University and has taught at Simmons University since 2003.


TURA Program Updates

A program update with a handout was provided. Highlights include upcoming events such as the TURI spring Continuing Education Conference, the NEWMOA PFAS conference, the Champions of Toxics Use Reduction event at the state house, and resource conservation training. Links to videos that TURI has created recently are on TURI’s website; e.g., an interview with a mother-daughter team of TUR Planners. Also, it was mentioned that the TURA Planning guidance has been updated, and that C1-C4 Not Otherwise Listed, and nonylphenol ethoxylates are reportable substances this year. Grants are referenced in the handout.


A representative from the TURA program talked about the process of creating an Ad Hoc Subcommittee to discuss potential TURA program improvements. A representative from MassDEP announced that they have released their PFAS proposed MCL of 20 ppt for the sum of 6 PFAS; dates for the upcoming public hearings were provided.


PFAS TURA Program Updates

A group did testing for PFAS in artificial turf, and found them to be present. In response to several inquiries from Massachusetts communities, TURI is creating a fact sheet on this new finding.


Heather reviewed the PFAS Policy Analysis that TURI has been developing to assist the Administrative Council and the Advisory Committee in their deliberations. It includes a summary of scientific information that was reviewed by the SAB, estimated uses of PFAS in Massachusetts, alternatives to selected uses, and selected regulatory information. The newest version will be added to the SAB LibGuide. Board members are welcome to give feedback and to attend any meetings of the Council and Advisory Committee.


A member asked if there was work to try to better understand what the likely sources of PFAS were/are, to help environmental professionals know whether a particular site is likely to have PFAS contamination. TURI is looking into work on contaminated sites in Massachusetts and their sources of contamination as well as emerging information from water and wastewater facilities. This information will be included in the policy analysis and in trainings as appropriate as it evolves.


A member asked if any programs are requiring sampling for PFAS. No one was aware of any requirements, however, current or potential drinking water sources will be subject to testing for six PFAS under the new MCP regulations. There is a lot of sampling happening in other states that have known PFAS contamination. A representative from the TURA program stated that drinking water supplies with at least 10,000 users have been sampled for six PFAS under the federal UCMR3, and that data is publicly available on DEP’s website. The TURA program has begun asking businesses they are talking to if they know whether they use PFAS or not. Surprising answers have been received, and the program hopes to gain valuable information on the use of PFAS in Massachusetts through these conversations.


The recently passed federal National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes new provisions adding some longer chain PFAS and GenX to the TRI. This information can be found in the Policy Analysis that was handed out. Under the NDAA, the reporting threshold on these substances will be 100 pounds, effective reporting year 2020. Within five years EPA needs to revisit this threshold, and in two years consider the addition of other substances that are short chain and other ethers.


Approve November Minutes

A motion was made to approve the November minutes with the following changes: “EPA has been reviewing information” (change “EPA” to “DEP”). Also, “PFHA” should be “PFHpA”.

The minutes were approved: 7 in favor, 1 abstention.


PFAS Precursors and Range of Substances

Category document: At the request of the board, TURI shared a background document on chemical categories that was prepared when the program was considering the C1-C4 halogenated hydrocarbon category. The document lays out considerations for when a category is appropriate and provides excerpts from other chemical listings, primarily from EPA and TRI listings. It also discusses how categories can be defined, including by similar structures or functional groups or by a list of CAS numbers, and describes considerations such as whether chemicals are precursors to chemicals of concern, whether they have cumulative effects, and situations where there are large groups of similar substances that pose similar hazards.


For PFAS, the question was asked whether we would expect a different outcome if we continue to look at individual substances. There are 4700 or more substances, so it is not feasible to do one chemical at a time. A member asked if we needed a new approach, given that going forward there is likely be less and less data available. Governments have committed to reducing reliance on animal studies, moving toward in vitro and in silico data. This speaks to the need to combine scientific information on what we know about groups of chemicals to make decisions. The board would like to discuss this further. A representative from the Fluorocouncil offered that there are three major projects currently underway around grouping, terminology, and mechanisms of PFAS (OECD, SETAC, and a white paper publication that is in review). The white paper is expected to be released in March.


A member highlighted the category aspects of interchangeability and potential for regrettable substitution with this class of chemicals.  Another member suggested that there could be a negative effect of being overly inclusive; would it discourage a company from substituting a not-as-bad chemical in the same category? If a company could present the data that a chemical they are using within the category is “safer” could it be delisted? This is possible; they would typically need to show that it didn’t share the same hazard characteristics as the rest of the category, and that it was safe enough to justify not being on the TURA toxic or hazardous substances list. A member stated that precursors need to be included and taken into consideration when trying to make a category or grouping. One option is to go broad versus narrow, noting that if you could provide favorable information a specific substance could potentially be delisted. It was questioned whether this has been done before and yes, examples include delisting of zinc stearate from the zinc compounds category among others. That is an option when determining a category, someone could petition to delist a specific chemical if they had data to justify it.


A representative from the Fluorocouncil explained how potential precursors can only be fully broken down (mineralized) when incinerated at the proper temperature- if the temperature is not correct, smaller fragments will cleave and break down to other substances, including PFAAs. 1000˚C is the required temperature to properly incinerate.


A member asked the rest of the board if was there anyone that felt like we needed to look at more individual substances. Many members agreed that it wasn’t necessary, and wouldn’t be worthwhile unless we had knowledge of use of these individual substances, and hazard data for them.


The board discussed the OECD spreadsheet of PFAS chemicals. A board member noted that approximately 89% of the more than 4700 chemicals on the list are indicated as being potential PFAA precursors in the environment/biota. Another member noted that of the 11% that aren’t noted as PFAA precursors, some are the end degradation products (PFAAs or ethers) which don’t degrade further. Dr. Wang, one of the chief researchers generating the OECD list, provided the rationale for chemicals being indicated as potential precursors as ”anything with a non-perfluorinated carbon or iodine atom linked to the perfluorinated carbon moiety.”


A representative of the Fluorocouncil concurred that generally speaking, the only PFAS that could not break down into PFAA’s are the ethers, like GenX and ADONA, although some precursors might take a very long time to degrade.


Degradation and Transformation

A member stated that they think it is not appropriate to group the large PFAS universe as a whole, but it is necessary to group. Members expressed general support for a category approach. The board expressed interest in being able to review the OECD and SETAC documents. The option of recommending to list the 89% of chemicals on the OECD list noted as potential precursors plus any end degradation products, pending a review of the list was suggested. A member asked if there was any reason not to include the other chemicals not designated as precursors, in a category. There was additional discussion surrounding the problem of companies not knowing if they are using PFAS or not. There is a lot of learning that needs to be done.


In response to a previous board question, a brief overview of landfill leachate information was provided as part of the degradation pathway slides. In general, landfill leachate has tested positive for many PFAS, including many shorter chain PFAAs. The board requested that the background information and references be posted on the LibGuide. There were also questions about incineration of PFAS, including fluoropolymers. A representative of the Fluorocouncil noted that burning them at the wrong temperature (below 800°C) will produce a variety of substances, including PFAAs. TURA program staff asked if Massachusetts Municipal Waste Combustors operated at that temperature. No one could confirm this is the case.


At our next meeting we will begin our discussion with the draft group containing the 89% of the OECD list that are PFAA Precursors plus PFAAs. Some members expressed concerns and do not want to ignore the remaining 11% as there might be other end products that are of concern. Board members will review the OECD list, and TURI will look for any common characteristics among the 11%. TURI will attempt to obtain 1) the OECD Grouping work (in process) 2) the SETAC white paper and 3) any MA business survey results that might be available. Additionally, TURI has obtained a list of fluorinated compounds that have been purchased by UML and has been reviewing it to supplement data on actual use and where these compounds are found. Definitions of PFAS are different across organizations and regulatory agencies. It was noted that definitions from other organizations would be helpful moving forward.


Next meeting

March 26th and April 2nd were discussed as the best options for the next meeting. These dates will be checked with members who are not present.



  • TURA Program Update
  • Updated PFAS Degradation/Transformation Examples and Summary Spreadsheet
  • Category Considerations Document
  • Draft PFAS Policy Analysis January 2020
  • November SAB Minutes (limited copies)