The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or PFOA, and Perfluorooctanesulfonate, or PFOS, under federal cleanup programs.
“The interim recommendations will provide clear and consistent guidance for federal cleanup programs and will help protect drinking water resources in communities across the country," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Federal agencies and states have asked EPA to provide guidance on this issue, and EPA is following through on its commitment. After reviewing public comments on the agency’s April 2019 draft guidance, EPA is finalizing these interim recommendations based on the available data and scientific information on PFAS toxicity. EPA acknowledges that the scientific information on these compounds continues to evolve. As part of the PFAS Action Plan, EPA is continuing to develop and assess toxicity information, test methods, laboratory methods, analytical methods, exposure models, and treatment methods, among other research efforts to improve our knowledge about this class of chemicals. As new information becomes available on other PFAS chemicals, the agency will consider additional recommendations as the agency advances its knowledge of these other substances.
With these interim recommendations, EPA is focusing on addressing groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water. The guidance recommends:
- Using a screening level of 40 parts per trillion (ppt) to determine if PFOA and/or PFOS is present at a site and may warrant further attention.
- Screening levels are risk-based values that are used to determine if levels of contamination may warrant further investigation at a site.
- Using EPA’s PFOA and PFOS Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory level of 70 ppt as the preliminary remediation goal (PRG) for contaminated groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water, where no state or tribal MCL or other applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs) are available or sufficiently protective.
The interim recommendations and additional information can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/interim-recommendations-addressing-groundwater-contaminated-pfoa-and-pfos
Where do these recommendations apply?
These recommendations apply to cleanup sites being evaluated and addressed under federal programs, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) and corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
What are PFAS?
PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals used in consumer products and industrial processes. In use since the 1940s, PFAS are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water—properties which contribute to their persistence in the environment.
EPA is taking the following actions:
- EPA is committed to following the national primary drinking water regulation rulemaking process as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- On December 19, 2019, EPA issued Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, which provides cleanup guidance for federal cleanup programs that will be helpful to states and tribes.
- EPA will follow through on the regulatory development process for listing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
- EPA will propose nationwide drinking water monitoring for PFAS under the next UCMR monitoring cycle.
- EPA has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would allow the public to provide input on adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory toxic chemical list.
- EPA is exploring data availability and research to support the development of Clean Water Act human health and aquatic life criteria for certain PFAS, as data allows.
- EPA is examining available information about PFAS released into surface waters by industrial sources to determine if additional study is needed for potential regulation.
- EPA is in the early scoping stages of risk assessments for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids to understand any potential health impacts.
- On November 22, 2019, EPA announced availability of $4.8 million in funding for new research on managing PFAS in agriculture.
- EPA continues to compile and assess human and ecological toxicity information on PFAS to support risk management decisions.
- EPA continues to develop new methods to test for additional PFAS in drinking water.
- The agency is also validating analytical methods for surface water, ground water, wastewater, soils, sediments and biosolids; developing new methods to test for PFAS in air and emissions; and improving laboratory methods to discover unknown PFAS.
- EPA is developing exposure models to understand how PFAS moves through the environment to impact people and ecosystems.
- EPA continues to assess and review treatment methods for removing PFAS in drinking water.
- EPA is working to develop tools to assist officials with the cleanup of contaminated sites.
A full summary of EPA’s action to address PFAS can be found in the PFAS Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/epas-pfas-action-plan