Illinois EPA Follows Nationwide Trend in Proposing PFAS Standards

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released new proposed groundwater quality standards for select per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Illinois’ move to adopt PFAS standards follows a growing trend throughout the United States. Since there isn’t a federal drinking water standard for PFAS, regulation of the substances has largely fallen to the states.

Standards for specific PFAS types can vary wildly between regulating states. For example, Illinois’ proposed standard for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) is 0.14 mg/L (or 140,000 ng/L), whereas Michigan’s recently enacted standard is set at 0.00042 mg/L (or 420 ng/L).

Apart from the varying state regulations, according to national law firm Troutman Pepper, political pressure for action on PFAS has been increasing in Illinois. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and Representative Cheri Bustos sent a letter to EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede urging air emissions testing for PFAS “at manufacturing facilities and other industrial sources known to emit [PFAS] in Illinois,” including a specific hazardous waste incinerator facility in Sauget, Illinois.

The letter’s focus on PFAS air emissions is particularly noteworthy, Troutman Pepper says, illustrating that PFAS regulation has the potential to expand beyond groundwater quality standards.

NGWA has long been an industry leader in providing PFAS research, education, and resources to the public and scientific communities. In 2018, 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 contaminant featuring an FAQs document, a top-10 facts sheet, a homeowner checklist, and more.

NGWA’s newest document on PFAS, PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know, is a fact sheet written in an accessible and easy-to-understand way by members of NGWA’s PFAS Task Force. It focuses on everything private well owners should know about the impacts of PFAS on their wells and can be found on the NGWA website as well.

Earlier this summer, NGWA and eight other water associations commented on the EPA drinking water regulatory determination for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), as well as other PFAS compounds, while also urging timely and comprehensive action.