Introduction

On April 19, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a final rule adding perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) to the list of hazardous substances regulated under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the “Superfund” statute. This designation, which had been expected for several years

On January 31, 2024, EPA published a press release announcing the impending publication of two proposed rules relating to PFAS and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA): (1) “Definition of Hazardous Waste Applicable to Corrective Action from Solid Waste Management Units” and (2) “Listing of Specific PFAS as Hazardous Constituents.”  

Definition of Hazardous

During 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected discharge data for PFAS as part of its Multi-Industry PFAS Study.  The purpose behind the study was to identify facilities producing or using PFAS, look at their wastewater characteristics, estimate PFAS in their discharges, and identify control practices and treatment options.  As part of the study, EPA collected data from various EPA data sets and obtained information from other federal agencies (the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration), states and EPA regions, as well as information from industrial users.  After EPA collected its data, it categorically broke down the results of its study into the following groups:

  1. Organic chemicals, plastics, and synthetic fibers (OCPSF)
  2. Metal finishing
  3. Pulp, paper, and paperboard
  4. Textile mills
  5. Commercial airports

The information collected by EPA during its study will be used to further identify companies and facilities that manufacture, import, or process PFAS.Continue Reading EPA PFAS testing targeted industry and will now look to public water systems

On October 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Strategic Roadmap (the Roadmap) detailing steps that the EPA plans to take to address PFAS contamination. PFAS are largely unregulated, but studies linking certain PFAS to health issues and their persistence in the environment and human body are driving the push for increased regulation. Currently, the EPA has established only a non-enforceable health advisory level for two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Additionally, some states have been moving forward at different speeds to establish state-specific PFAS regulations, including drinking water standards and cleanup levels for soil and groundwater remediation. However, the EPA’s Roadmap suggests increased federal regulation looms.

The EPA’s approach under the Roadmap considers the lifecycle of PFAS, focusing not only on remediating PFAS-contaminated sites and regulating PFAS discharges or emissions, but also regulating PFAS at the upstream level where they are produced and incorporated into products. Other areas of focus called out in the Roadmap include (1) an emphasis on enforcement actions at PFAS-contaminated sites and placing responsibilities for limiting exposure on manufacturers, processors, distributors, and similar users; (2) research into PFAS over health effects and remediation technologies; and (3) an environmental justice focus on prioritization of PFAS effects on disadvantaged communities.Continue Reading U.S. EPA releases Roadmap to address PFAS contamination

The EPA is moving towards establishing a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, and has stated that it is considering avenues for regulating additional groups of PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as well.  On February 22, 2021, the EPA announced two actions under SDWA to address PFAS.

First, the agency reissued the final regulatory determination to implement a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for PFOS and PFOA (the “Determination”).  This Determination is a continuation of an intended action under the Trump administration, but indicates the Biden administration intends to continue to move forward.  The Determination also states that the EPA is considering the regulation of additional PFAS chemicals.Continue Reading EPA indicates intention to regulate certain PFAS in drinking water

Organizations closely scrutinizing PFAS, like the Environmental Working Group, are touting loudly that the Biden administration will address PFAS and speculating on how the Biden Administration might approach the chemicals by setting enforceable drinking water limits, designating the substances as hazardous and finding PFAS substitutes for consumer items.

Under President Trump, EPA touted its

Last Friday, April 17, the attorneys general of New York, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin filed a comment letter with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to take more comprehensive actions regarding per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively, “PFAS”), stating “the final rule should be broadened to more effectively serve the goals and mandates of the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) to prevent exposures to harmful substances before they are introduced into the marketplace.” Specifically, the attorneys general urge EPA to strengthen the supplemental proposal by: (1) including the entire chemical family of long-chain PFAS rather than the subset of these chemicals proposed in the Supplemental Proposal; (2) in accordance with its initial proposal, adopting a final rule that applies to articles containing long-chain PFAS anywhere in the article and not only to those articles in which PFAS are contained within the surface coatings; (3) applying the rule to the processing of articles and not just to the importing of them; and (4) disallowing any carve outs to the requirement to notify EPA for de minimis amounts of PFAS covered by the rule.
Continue Reading In the midst of COVID-19, attorneys general of 18 States urge stronger EPA Action on PFAS