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April 12, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Action to Cut PFAS from U.S. Government Custodial Contracts

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on April 8, 2024, that it is directing government contractors to purchase cleaning products for federal buildings that are free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This change is the result of a collaboration between EPA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to implement President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which directs federal agencies to prioritize the purchase of sustainable products and services, including products without added PFAS. The change is reflected in GSA’s custodial specification. Contractors will be required to use products certified to ecolabels such as EPA’s Safer Choice that meet strict criteria for human health and the environment by using effective, safer chemical alternatives, as well as certain Green Seal® certifications.

According to EPA, the updated specification requires that contractors use cleaners and hand soaps certified to the EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal® GS-37, Green Seal® GS-41, or Green Seal® GS-53 certifications, which do not allow intentionally added PFAS in product formulations. EPA notes that this is in addition to meeting federal statutory requirements, including the minimum biobased content requirement set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred® Program.

To assist federal buyers, program managers, and vendors working with federal agencies, EPA and GSA collaborated on several steps to make it easier to identify and buy products, such as cleaning products, that do not contain PFAS, including:

  • GSA’s Sustainable Facilities Tool (SFTool) Product Search has a “PFAS Addressed” filter to browse for products certified to ecolabels and standards that are required for use in federal purchasing;
  • GSA’s Advantage shopping and ordering website is now enhanced to make it easier to find products that are Safer Choice-certified; and
  • EPA’s Safer Choice Program offered a webinar on April 9, 2024, on how updates to federal purchasing and GSA Advantage provide further incentives for businesses to acquire and maintain Safer Choice certification for their products, as well as how product manufacturers can feature their product benefits in GSA Advantage. EPA intends to post a recording of the webinar.