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EPA Continues to Aggressively Address PFAS in the Great Lakes Region

Progress continues to be made through EPA’s PFAS Action Plan

07/29/2020
Contact Information: 
Ben Weiss (weiss.benjamin@epa.gov)
312-353-9715

CHICAGO (July 29, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Great Lakes Region continues to make advancements in addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the PFAS Action Plan —the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern. Together, these efforts are helping EPA, states, tribes, and local communities across the country target PFAS reductions and protect public health.

“With federal technical assistance efforts underway across the country, the Trump Administration is bringing much needed support to state, tribal, and local governments as part of the agency’s unprecedented efforts under the PFAS Action Plan,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These partnerships allow for collaboration, encourage cutting edge research, and information sharing—ensuring that our joint efforts are effective and protective of public health.”

“EPA remains fully committed to our partners and communities throughout the Great Lakes Region as we continue to make progress in addressing PFAS contamination,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “The collaborations formed through the PFAS Action Plan continue to result in new knowledge and understanding of PFAS, leading to results that protect public health.”

Highlighted partnerships and actions in the region include:

Analyzing PFAS at Chromium Electroplating Facilities in Michigan: EPA collaborated with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on a study to characterize PFAS fume suppressants used at chromium electroplating facilities. EPA presented results from the study to over 500 participants on a public webinar hosted by the EGLE.

Monitoring for PFAS in the Great Lakes: As part of EPA’s long-term monitoring programs, EPA is collecting and analyzing whole fish tissue, sediment, air, and water samples to determine concentrations and trends of PFAS in the Great Lakes.

Collaborating to Study PFAS-Containing Foam Seen in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan: Participating in a multi-Agency technical working group to share information and develop technical reference materials related to froth-like PFAS-containing foams seen on surface water bodies in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Prior to formation of this working group, EPA provided non-regulatory technical assistance in developing sampling methods for analyzing PFAS-containing foams present at several lakes in the state of Michigan and in summarizing literature findings on dermal and inhalation exposures.

Studying PFAS in Surface Water in Minnesota: Collaborating with the state of Minnesota to research the environmental conditions for PFAS stratification in surface water, compare sampling methods for PFAS in surface water foam, and evaluate passive monitoring well samplers for PFAS in groundwater.

Chicago Laboratory Providing Assistance to Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota: EPA’s Chicago Regional Laboratory is working with a multitude of EPA programs and state partners in the Great Lakes Region and elsewhere to help develop and validate EPA methods, analyze site-specific PFAS samples and participate in occurrence research studies.

Background on the PFAS Action Plan

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, facilities using PFAS in production of other products, airports, and military installations are some of the contributors of PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. There is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.

As part of EPA’s aggressive efforts to address these risks, the agency issued the PFAS Action Plan in February 2019. The Action Plan is the agency’s first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS. The plan responds to the extensive public input the agency received during the PFAS National Leadership Summit, multiple community engagements and through the public docket. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the processes and tools EPA is using to develop to assess the PFAS risk and assist states, tribes and communities in addressing their unique situations.

For more information on EPA’s PFAS Action Plan, please see: https://www.epa.gov/pfas.

For more information on EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s research efforts on PFAS, visit: https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/research-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas.

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