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Status of EPA Research and Development on PFAS

EPA researchers are working on a wide range of activities to help understand PFAS and reduce risks to the public. This page contains anticipated internal timelines that EPA is using to track planned research activities. These timelines are subject to change.  See EPA's main PFAS research page for more information. Last update: April 20, 2021.

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Methods to Detect and Quantify PFAS - EPA researchers are developing and validating laboratory methods to detect and quantify selected PFAS in air, water, and soil.

Title Description Status More Information
Method 537.1 Method 537.1 is a validated method for measuring 18 PFAS in drinking water.  Complete. Method 537.1 replaces Method 537.  Access the final method here.
SW846 Method 8327 SW-846 Method 8327 is a validated method for measuring 24 PFAS in groundwater, surface water, and wastewater samples. This method is available for use but has not yet been formally incorporated into the SW-846 Compendium. Reviewing public comments and making final revisions. Access the method here.
CWA Method 1600

EPA is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop an isotope dilution method for non-drinking water aqueous matrices (surface water, groundwater, wastewater influent/effluent, landfill leachate), fish tissues, biosolids, soils, and sediments.

Anticipate completing multi-laboratory validation in 2021. Access the list of PFAS here. 
OTM-45

OTM-45 is a method for measuring 50 PFAS in air emissions from stationary sources.

Other Test Methods (OTM) have been reviewed by EPA and have been found to be potentially useful to the emission measurement community. OTMs have not been subject to the Federal rulemaking process.

Released January 2021.

EPA intends for the scientific community to provide feedback on OTM-45. EPA will consider and incorporate feedback to keep improving the method.
Access the method here.
PFAS Source (Air) Emission Measurement Methods Refined methods to measure and characterize  PFAS in emissions from stationary sources.  Candidate methods for evaluation/validation expected 2022. No further information at this time. 
PFAS Atmospheric Deposition  Sampling Methods Sampling methods to measure atmospheric deposition of PFAS.  This work is in its early stages.  No further information at this time. 
Total PFAS Methods Total PFAS methods aim to quantify large groups of PFAS in environmental samples.   Total Organic Fluorine (TOF) method for evaluation/validation expected 2021.   No further information at this time.  


Assessing PFAS Human Toxicity -
EPA researchers are developing standard human health toxicity reference values for specific PFAS where sufficient scientific data exist.  EPA researchers are also applying computational and high throughput toxicology tools for PFAS toxicity testing on a larger scale.

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Human Health Toxicity Assessment for PFBS The toxicity assessment is a written summary of the potential health effects associated with PFBS and identifies the dose levels at which those health effects may occur in order to calculate toxicity values. Released April 2021. Access the final assessment here. 
IRIS Assessments for PFBA, PFHxA, PFDA, PFHxS, and PFNA IRIS assessments identify and characterize the health hazards of chemicals found in the environment.

Updated systematic review protocol released in January 2021 

Latest schedule is available in the IRIS Program Outlook

Access the Systematic Review Protocol here.  

PFAS Chemical Library A chemical library of known PFAS to aid testing for environmental decision-making. States can request access to samples of PFAS to use for method validations and/or research. 

The library chemicals are now available.

Access the list of PFAS available here.

Tier 1 Toxicity Testing

High-throughput toxicity testing on ~120 different PFAS chemicals, representing a range of PFAS. Work will yield information for prioritizing chemicals for further testing and to inform possible categorization. 

Ongoing.

Learn more about EPA’s high throughput research here.
Prioritization of PFAS for Tier 2 Toxicity Testing

The 120 PFAS chemicals tested in Tier 1 will be prioritized for additional toxicity testing based on the results of the Tier 1 testing and the availability of other human health toxicity data. 

Expected after Tier 1 testing is completed. No further information at this time.

Assessing PFAS Ecological Toxicity - EPA researchers are studying the effects of PFAS on ecological systems.

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
ECOTOX Knowledgebase  This database contains information that can be used by scientists to identify potentially susceptible species, understand bioaccumulation, and support decisions to protect ecosystems. Ongoing.  As of March 2021, EPA has updated the ECOTOX Knowledgebase to include ecotoxicologically relevant effect records for 149 PFAS. Access ECOTOX here.
Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) Development of putative AOPs for PPAR signaling (fish) and thyroid dysfunction (avian). Expected 2022.

Learn more about AOPs at EPA. 

Bioaccumulation Models in Fish Review literature, generate data, and develop updated PFAS bioaccumulation models in fish. Evaluation of published bioconcentration factor (BCF) and bioaccumulation factor (BAF) data for PFAS across aquatic species published February 2021 Access the published paper hereExit.

Researching PFAS Exposure - EPA researchers are measuring PFAS in air, drinking water, soils, etc., to understand how and to what degree people might be exposed to PFAS. 

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
CompTox Chemicals Dashboard – PFAS Chemicals A curated list of PFAS chemical data that includes physicochemical properties, environmental fate and transport data, toxicity data, and more. This is in EPA’s CompTox Chemicals Dashboard, which is a first-stop shop for chemistry, toxicity, and exposure information for ~900,000 chemicals. Ongoing. The Dashboard currently contains information on PFAS substances organized by various lists. See more information on these chemicals here.
PFAS Fate and Transport Case Study  Study of PFAS fate and transport around Fayetteville, NC. This work will advance the understanding of how PFAS moves through the environment.  Emissions, transport and deposition from a fluoropolymer manufacturing facility published 2021 Access the published paper hereExit.
American Healthy Homes Survey Dataset on PFAS in Homes Lab analysis of water, dust, and soil found in homes. In collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This work is in its early stages. No further information at this time.
Exposure Analysis Develop a framework for comparative exposure analysis. Expected 2021. No further information at this time. 
Human Exposure Model Develop and apply a multi-media human exposure model to selected PFAS. This work will help estimate human exposures to PFAS. Expected 2022. No further information at this time. 

Drinking Water Treatment Options - EPA researchers are evaluating different drinking water treatment technologies that can remove certain PFAS from drinking water systems

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Pilot-scale Water Treatment for PFAS Manuscripts on the efficacy of drinking water treatment methods at the pilot scale. Expected 2022. No further information at this time.
Drinking Water Ion Exchange Treatment Performance Models Drinking water treatability manuscripts and corresponding models for ion exchange (IX).  Expected 2022. No further information at this time, but learn more about Ion Exchange treatment at EPA’s Drinking Water Treatability Database.
Drinking Water Point of Use and Point of Entry Devices Studies on the efficacy of off-the-shelf, commercially-available household water treatment systems. Studies will evaluate granular activated carbon (GAC), reverse osmosis (RO), and ion exchange (IX) treatment systems.  Studies for GAC and RO systems are complete. The IX study is underway, and EPA expects to complete the study in 2021. GAC and RO study available here.  EPA also published a plain-language article about this work in EPA’s Science Matters. Learn more about GAC, RO, and IX treatment methods in this Science Matters article.
Drinking Water Treatability Database  Evaluation of technologies for removal of PFAS from drinking water. Will include performance and cost data, as well as models and tools to help communities determine optimal treatment choices.  Ongoing. As of July 2020, EPA  has updated the Database with information on treatment information for 26 PFAS chemicals. Access the Drinking Water Treatability Database here.
Reactivation of PFAS-Laden Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Development of proper operating parameters for reactivation of GAC after removal of PFAS from water. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense.  Expected 2021. No further information at this time.
Incineration of Spent Granular Activation Carbon (GAC) and Ion Exchange (IX)  Studying the incineration of spent GAC and IX adsorption materials that have been used in water treatment applications for PFAS removal. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense.  Expected 2021. No further information at this time.
Destruction of Ion Exchange (IX) Treatment Materials in Kiln Furnaces Investigation into the feasibility of destroying PFAS ion exchange treatment materials in kiln furnaces. Expected 2021. No further information at this time.

Cleaning Up and Managing PFAS Contamination- EPA researchers are characterizing how disposal approaches, such as landfills and incinerators, might contribute to PFAS in the environment to aid in cleanup efforts. EPA researchers are also developing methods for characterizing PFAS releases and movement in soil, water, and sediments at contaminated sites. 

Title  Description Status/Timeline More Information
Thermal Treatment of PFAS in soil  Studying the emissions and evaluating the efficacy of thermal treatment/removal of PFAS found in soil. In collaboration with DOD. Draft report expected in 2021. No further information at this time.
Performance and Cost Models for Groundwater Remediation Performance and cost models for remediation options. This will help communities and site managers make informed choices in cleaning up PFAS-contaminated sites. Collaborating with DOD to develop. Expected 2021. No further information at this time.
Fate and Management of PFAS in Land-Applied Biosolids  Research producing multiple manuscripts to understand  PFAS fate and levels in biosolids  and potential management options.  Expect 2023.

No further information at this time. 

Learn more about the land application of biosolids.

Incineration of PFAS Materials Studies on how PFAS materials could be incinerated as a method of disposal.

Low temperature thermal treatment of gas-phase fluorotelomer alcohols by calcium oxide published June 2021.

Analysis of fate of PFAS during incineration released April 2021. 

Access the published papers here and here.

A technical brief on Incineration to Manage PFAS Waste Streams is available here.

Thermal Treatment of PFAS in Biosolids Technical memo on the thermal treatment of PFAS contaminated biosolids. Expected 2021. No further information at this time. 
PFAS in Landfill Leachate Summary of treatment approaches  for PFAS in landfill leachate, which include liquids and gases that are emitted from landfills.  Expected 2021. No further information at this time.
PFAS and Vapor Intrusion Report on subsurface migration potential of PFAS into buildings and residences. Expected 2021.

No further information at this time. 

Learn about vapor intrusion. 

Extramurally Funded Projects

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Grants to Support Research on PFAS Impacts in Rural Communities and Agricultural Operations Research to better understand the potential impacts of PFAS on water quality and availability in rural communities and agricultural operations across the United States. Research grants awarded n August 2020. Project completion dates are in 2023.

Learn more about the grant projects.

Read the press release.

Grants to Support Research on Practical Methods to Analyze and Treat Emerging Contaminants (PFAS) in Solid Waste, Landfills, Wastewater/Leachates, Soils, and Groundwater to Protect Human Health and the Environment Research to promote innovation in evaluating and managing PFAS in solid waste, landfills, and environmental media that will lead to improved decision making, management practices, and technical methods to minimize the risks to both humans and ecosystems. Research grants awarded in 2019. Project completion dates are in Q3 2022.

Learn more about the recipients of the grant.

Read the press release announcing the awards.

Grants to Support Research on Water Quality and Availability Challenges of PFAS Research to better understand the impacts of PFAS on water quality and availability across the United States. Research grants awarded in 2019. Project completion dates are in 2022. Learn more about the grant projects.