New Ruling Aims to Cut PFAS from U.S. Government Custodial Contracts

April 8, 2024

According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) press release, the Biden-Harris Administration is directing U.S. government contractors to purchase cleaning products for federal buildings that are free of toxic “forever chemicals.”

The updated requirements are the result of a collaboration between the EPA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to implement U.S. President Joe Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which directs federal agencies to prioritize the purchase of sustainable products and services, including products without added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

GSA’s updated custodial specifications require that contractors use cleaners and hand soaps must be 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. This is in addition to meeting federal statutory requirements, including the minimum biobased content requirement set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program. Currently, GSA’s Public Building Service has more than 600 contracts for custodial services at more than 1,500 U.S. government-owned buildings at a cost of more than US$400 million per year and expects that most of these contracts will include the new specifications within five years.

“Everyone deserves protection from the harmful effects of forever chemicals, including the workers who use cleaning products, federal employees, and those who visit government buildings every day,” said Michael Regan, EPA administrator. “EPA has well recognized and established tools to help our partners in the federal government identify cleaning products that use safer ingredients and do not contain intentionally added PFAS to keep people safe and healthy.”

To help educate contractors on the new requirements, EPA’s Safer Choice Program is offering a webinar on April 9, at 2:00 p.m. ET, 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. Product manufacturers and purchasers are encouraged to attend. For more information and to register, click here.