EPA Settlement With Swix Sport USA Resolves TSCA Violations Involving PFAS

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On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Swix Sport USA (Swix) finalized an agreement resolving Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) violations associated with the importation of noncompliant ski wax products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Swix agrees to pay a fine and develop a $1M educational program to raise awareness in ski communities about PFAS chemicals in ski waxes.

Swix violated the TSCA Premanufacturing Notice requirements and Import Certification requirements when it imported ski wax products containing six different PFAS chemicals on at least 83 occasions that were not included on the TSCA Inventory or otherwise exempt for commercial purposes. Once the chemicals were identified, Swix immediately ceased importation of the products containing the PFAS substances and quarantined products in its control in the United States.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

EPA identified certain ski wax products containing PFAS substances that at the time of import had not been reviewed by EPA for health and safety risks. Ski wax technicians and other users who apply waxes to skis may be exposed from handling the wax and possibly through the vapors while applying the wax and melting it. Also, as part of the ski wax application process and through the use of waxed skis in snow, ski wax shavings can enter the environment.

Under the terms of the settlement, Swix has agreed to spend approximately $1,000,000 to develop and implement an outreach and training program referred to as a Responsible Waxing Project (RWP) and pay a $375,625 civil penalty. The RWP is aimed at (1) educating the ski racing community about PFAS chemicals in racing waxes and their impact on the environment; and (2) promoting the use of wax alternatives with lower environmental impact, including but not limited to racing waxes that are PFAS-free. Another objective of the RWP is to educate and motivate the ski racing community to phase out (and ultimately eliminate) the use of PFAS-containing waxes in ski racing beginning with the 2020 ski season.

The RWP has several elements including an education and training component for ski wax technicians on the proper disposal of racing wax shavings and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment during the waxing process. Other RWP elements include:

  • PFAS ski wax education program including two on-site presentations at a major ski event that attracts more than 10,000 participants.
  • Training for wax technicians on the proper use of protective personnel equipment, proper ventilation and proper disposal of wax shavings.
  • Program for ski wax coaches available online and used at on-site presentations at a minimum of 10 events designed for coach certifications.
  • Additional outreach to college racing teams and clubs that educates high school and college level skiers about the RWP content.
  • Dedicated Swix project manager who oversees the project to completion.
  • Website development for all videos created as part of the settlement for technicians, coaches and teams.
  • Distribution of PFAS alternative wax information materials at a minimum of 50 ski sites.

The Consent Agreement and Final Order was approved by EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board on May 13, 2020. To read the Consent Agreement click here.

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