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EPA Moves Forward on Key Drinking Water Priority Under PFAS Action Plan

12/04/2019
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WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2019) — Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the proposed regulatory determination for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. This step is an important part of EPA’s extensive efforts under the PFAS Action Plan to help communities address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) nationwide. 

“Under President Trump, EPA is continuing to aggressively implement our PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With today’s action, EPA is following through on its commitment in the Action Plan to evaluate PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

The action will provide proposed determinations for at least five contaminants listed on the fourth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL4), including PFOA and PFOS, in compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

Background

The Safe Drinking Water Act establishes robust scientific and public participation processes that guide EPA’s development of regulations for unregulated contaminants that may present a risk to public health. Every five years, EPA must publish a list of contaminants, known as the Contaminant Candidate List or CCL, that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and are not currently subject to EPA drinking water regulations. EPA publishes draft CCLs for public comment and considers those prior to issuing final lists.

After issuing the final CCL, EPA determines whether or not to regulate five or more contaminants on the CCL through a process known as a Regulatory Determination. EPA publishes preliminary regulatory determinations for public comment and considers those comments prior to making final regulatory determinations. If EPA makes a positive regulatory determination for any contaminant, it will begin the process to establish a national primary drinking water regulation for that contaminant.

For more information: www.epa.gov/ccl

Background on the PFAS Action Plan

PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals used in consumer products and industrial processes. In use since the 1940s, PFAS are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water—properties which contribute to their persistence in the environment.

The agency’s PFAS Action Plan is the 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 tools EPA is developing to assist states, tribes, and communities in addressing PFAS.

EPA is taking the following highlighted actions:

Highlighted Action: Drinking Water

  • EPA is committed to following the national primary drinking water regulation rulemaking process as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
  • EPA has sent the proposed regulatory determination for PFOA and PFOS to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.
  • The agency is also gathering and evaluating information to determine if regulation is appropriate for other chemicals in the PFAS family.

 Highlighted Action: Cleanup

Highlighted Action: Monitoring

  • EPA will propose nationwide drinking water monitoring for PFAS under the next UCMR monitoring cycle.

Highlighted Action: Toxics

  • EPA has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would allow the public to provide input on adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory toxic chemical list.
  • A supplemental proposal to ensure that certain persistent long-chain PFAS chemicals cannot be manufactured in or imported into the United States without notification and review under the TSCA is currently undergoing interagency review at the Office of Management and Budget.

Highlighted Action: Surface Water Protection

  • EPA plans to develop national Clean Water Act human health and aquatic life criteria for PFAS, as data allows.
  • EPA is examining available information about PFAS released into surface waters by industrial sources to determine if additional study is needed for potential regulation.

Highlighted Action: Biosolids

  • EPA will be developing risk assessments for PFOA and PFOS to understand any potential health impacts.

Highlighted Action: Research

  • On November 22, 2019, EPA announced availability of $4.8 million in funding for new research on managing PFAS in agriculture.
  • EPA continues to compile and assess human and ecological toxicity information on PFAS to support risk management decisions.
  • EPA continues to develop new methods to test for additional PFAS in drinking water.
  • The agency is also validating analytical methods for surface water, ground water, wastewater, soils, sediments and biosolids; developing new methods to test for PFAS in air and emissions; and improving laboratory methods to discover unknown PFAS.
  • EPA is developing exposure models to understand how PFAS moves through the environment to impact people and ecosystems.
  • EPA continues to assess and review treatment methods for removing PFAS in drinking water.
  • EPA is working to develop tools to assist officials with the cleanup of contaminated sites.

Highlighted Action: Enforcement

  • EPA uses enforcement tools, when appropriate, to address PFAS exposure in the environment and assists states in enforcement activities.

Highlighted Action: Risk Communications

  • EPA will work collaboratively to develop a risk communication toolbox that includes multi-media materials and messaging for federal, state, tribal, and local partners to use with the public.

A full summary of EPA’s action to address PFAS can be found in the PFAS Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/epas-pfas-action-plan