U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan announced on October 18 the agency’s comprehensive PFAS Strategic Roadmap to confront PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination nationwide.
The roadmap—the result of a thorough analysis conducted by the EPA Council on PFAS that Regan established in April 2021—is centered on three guiding strategies: increase investments in research, leverage authorities to act now to restrict PFAS from being released into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.
Alongside the release of the roadmap, the agency is announcing a new national testing strategy that requires PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS. The PFAS to be tested will be selected based on an approach that breaks the large number of PFAS today into smaller categories based on similar features and considers what existing data are available for each category. The EPA’s initial set of test orders for PFAS, which are expected in a matter of months, will be strategically selected from more than 20 different categories of PFAS. This set of orders will provide the agency with critical information on more than 2000 other similar PFAS that fall within these categories.
The roadmap lays out:
- Aggressive timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure water is safe to drink in every community
- A hazardous substance designation under CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable
- Timelines for action—whether it is data collection or rulemaking—on effluent guideline limitations under the Clean Water Act for nine industrial categories
- A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act to address those that are insufficiently protective
- Increased monitoring, data collection, and research so that the agency can identify what actions are needed and when to take them
- A final toxicity assessment for GenX, which can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness
- Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act.
President Biden has called for more than $10 billion in funding to address PFAS contamination through his Build Back Better agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.
Over the coming weeks, the EPA will be working to partner for progress on PFAS. The agency will be engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to continue to identify collaborative solutions to the PFAS challenge, including two national webinars that will be held on October 26 and November 2. You can RSVP to the webinars using the hyperlinked dates.
NGWA has long been an industry leader in providing PFAS research, education, and resources to the public and scientific communities. In 2017, NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice, which was one of the first PFAS guidance documents to be released. It can be found at NGWA.org/PFAS, which is a complete resource center about the groundwater contaminants featuring a FAQs document, a top-10 facts sheet, a homeowner checklist, and more.