Apr 30, 2019

EPA Proposes New PFAS Standards

The U.S. EPA is asking for public comment on draft interim recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFOA and PFOS

The U.S. EPA is asking for public comment on draft interim recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFOA and PFOS

On April 25, the U.S. EPA released the draft interim guidance for addressing groundwater contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and/or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), for public review and comment. According to the EPA, this draft is a key component to the agency’s PFAS Action Plan and recommendations could help protect human health in communities across the country.

The proposed guidance would require federal agencies with jurisdiction over drinking water sites to clean up PFOA and PFOS contamination to concentrations lower than 70 ppt. The guidance also includes a provision stating that “responsible parties will address” contamination of groundwater that could become a drinking water source. However, the guidance does not include the designation of levels that would trigger bottled water distribution in communities served by contaminated water sources.

“Today, we are delivering on one of our most important commitments under the PFAS Action Plan,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, according to the EPA. “This interim guidance will support actions to protect the health of communities impacted by groundwater that contains PFOA and PFOS above the 70 parts per trillion level, and is a potential source of drinking water. This is a critical tool for our state, tribal and local partners to use to address these chemicals.”

According to The New York Times, the standards have eliminated a section that would address how the EPA would respond to what has been called an immediate threat posed by hazardous waste sites.

The toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been linked to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis, among others in the recent years. According to The New York Times, PFAS can be found in everyday products, such as nonstick pans, clothing and furniture, as well as in firefighting foams on military bases. The Pentagon has used PFAS chemicals as a firefighting tool, and it has confirmed the release or the possible release of the chemicals at multiple locations nationwide, in some cases contaminating drinking water supplies.

According to the EPA, the guidance was developed based on the agency’s scientific understanding of PFAS toxicity and recommendations may be revised as new information becomes available.

The proposed guidelines will be open for 45 days of public comment before they are completed. According to the EPA, the guidance describes EPA’s recommendations for screening levels and goals to inform final cleanup levels for PFAS contamination of groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water.

View the draft and submit comments here.

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