ICYMI: EPA, State, and Local Partners Team Up to Address PFAS Across the Country
WASHINGTON (July 30, 2020) — Aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) continues to be an active and ongoing priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA has made significant progress implementing the PFAS Action Plan — a comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical-of-concern. This “all hands” effort is helping EPA, states, tribes, and local communities 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 Technical Assistance Across the Country
- EPA collaborated with Alabama and Georgia to study PFAS levels in Alabama’s Weiss Lake and streams that flow into the lake. This research adds to a growing body of scientific information about the fate and transport of PFAS in river systems and can help inform future decision-making to address PFAS in Lake Weiss.
- EPA provided technical assistance to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to support the issuance of an enforcement order at 3M in Decatur, Ala. EPA also provided analytical support to ADEM in the areas of PFAS method development and evaluation of treatment technologies to remove PFAS from drinking water. The administrative order requires significant actions to reduce PFAS contamination associated with the facility.
- EPA has invested $984,000 in Public Water System Supervision supplemental grants, which included sampling of over 280 drinking water systems in Alabama for PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
- EPA is delivering technical assistance to the North Slope Borough (NSB) and Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS) in analyzing PFAS in Imikpuk Lake near the native village of Utqiaġvik. With the help of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), a study plan was developed and shared with the project partners (North Star Borough, ICAS, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and University of Alaska). The lake (near the former site of the Naval Arctic Research Lab and airstrip) was tested for PFAS by the Navy in 2017 and PFOA and PFOS levels were found to be above EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory level. EPA scientists have begun analyzing Lake water, sediment and fish samples previously collected by the University.
- EPA helped fund Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ) Public Water System Source Screening for PFOA and PFOS. Of the 109 samples collected from drinking water wells and analyzed for PFOA and PFOS, 89 had no detectable levels, 14 were below the EPA Health Advisory of 70 parts per trillion (PPT), and six were above the advisory level.
- EPA’s ORD Regional Community of Science Networking (ROCS-Net) program collaborated with ADEQ on “Groundwater Impacts to Public Water System’s in Arizona from PFAS Contaminants.” ROCS-Net participants visit an EPA research facility and are matched with a host EPA research scientist to help create opportunities for information sharing and collaboration.
- EPA participated in California State Water Resources Control Board’s PFAS Datathon to evaluate PFAS chemical fingerprint and concentration trends. Some preliminary trends were observed but require additional data for confirmation.
- EPA has ongoing collaboration with California State Waterboard on data analysis for statewide PFAS sampling efforts.
- In a multi-year effort, EPA with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), El Paso County, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Air Force, affected public water systems, and other entities worked to mitigate exposures from PFAS in drinking water and address community concerns in the Security/Widefield/Fountain areas near Colorado Springs, Colorado. EPA staff played key roles in conducting community engagement activities, providing technical assistance on groundwater sampling plans, evaluating human health and toxicological concerns, and funding private well sampling to determine the extent of contamination in the area.
- EPA assisted CDPHE, Tri-County Public Health, the South Adams County Water District, the City of Denver, and local stakeholders to investigate groundwater contamination of PFAS and protect public drinking water supplies in Denver and parts of its northern suburbs.
- EPA worked with CDPHE and small communities in the foothills of Boulder County, Colorado to address PFAS contamination affecting private wells. This support involves public outreach and education on EPA’s drinking water health advisory, technical support on PFAS measurement and analytical methods, and groundwater and private well sampling.
- In collaboration with the CDPHE, the Region is also developing training for municipalities and wastewater treatment plant operators to help identify potential sources of PFAS into their systems.
- At the Blades Groundwater Site, in the Town of Blades, Delaware, EPA uncovered new information that indicated that PFAS compounds were used at a former chrome-plating facility. Releases from the facility potentially affect municipal drinking water wells and residential wells near the site. Based on EPA’s discovery, rather than closing out evaluation of the site, PFAS sampling was conducted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and confirmed the presence of PFAS contamination in municipal drinking water wells above the EPA Health Advisory Level. EPA worked closely with DNREC, other state and local agencies, and rapidly assessed and expedited several investigative actions at Blades, including residential well assessments to determine if any residential wells near the former chrome-plating facility have been impacted by PFAS. Concurrently, DNREC coordinated response actions to provide the Town of Blades an alternate source of safe drinking water. EPA’s diligent collaboration and partnership with Delaware also resulted in proposing the Blades Groundwater site for inclusion on the National Priorities List.
- EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have assisted the Navy in addressing PFAS at two Naval Air Stations (NAS) in Jacksonville, Fla. At NAS Cecil Field, EPA helped identify PFAS contamination in an area requiring dewatering near a new air traffic control tower. The water was treated before being discharged to land, thereby preventing potential contamination of surface soil. At NAS Jacksonville, EPA supported the Navy’s efforts to sample private wells and educate well owners near an area where firefighting foam containing PFAS was historically used. A total of 19 wells were sampled in 2018 and all were below EPA’s health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS of 70 parts per trillion.
- EPA assisted FDEP in identifying appropriate test methods for PFAS in biosolids. EPA Region 4 currently analyzes soils by ASTM method D7968-17a: Determination of Polyfluorinated Compounds in Soil by Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).
- EPA has invested $984,000 in Public Water System Supervision supplemental grants, which included sampling of over 114 drinking water systems in Georgia for PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
- EPA has assisted Georgia in evaluating drinking water treatment options at the Summerville Public Works and Utilities in Georgia.
- 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.
- EPA is 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.
- EPA collaborated with Guam EPA to develop preliminary PFAS vulnerability Assessment for drinking water wells on Guam. The assessment was conducted using EPA well head protection area analysis methods.
- The agency provided technical document review and consultation for Guam EPA on PFAS cleanup and disposal issues.
- EPA consulted on Hawaii Department of Health’s recently released PFAS environmental screening action levels.
- 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.
- EPA Region 7 staff, Air Force and Army environmental specialists, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) are working together to sample and assess PFAS contamination at military installations including Fort Riley in Junction City and McConnell Air Force Base near Wichita.
- At the Fort Riley Superfund Site, during spring 2020, environmental staff conducted a PFAS Site Inspection. EPA’s Regional Lab reviewed and provided data analysis for split samples collected by KDHE during the site inspection.
- EPA’s Regional Lab in Kansas also worked to review and validate data from a KDHE sampling event conducted earlier this month at McConnell AFB.
- 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.
- EPA is 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.
- EPA Region 7 staff, Air Force and Army environmental specialists, and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) staffs are working together to sample and assess PFAS contamination and military installations including Offutt AFB in Bellevue.
- Offutt AFB environmental officials have been taking corrective action on a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste permit. Groundwater sampling for PFAS was planned site-wide through Air Force Base protocols and specifically includes a base firefighting training area. Offutt AFB and NDEE officials performed a screening level site inspection at several locations on Offutt where aqueous film-forming foams were historically used or stored. The sampling is scheduled to be completed this summer.
- In March 2020, EPA announced a $99,000 Small Business Innovation Research contract to AirLift Environmental LLC in Lincoln, Nebraska, to develop a remedial treatment to remove PFAS and associated co-contaminants from soil and groundwater.
- EPA has been working with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and ORD scientists to help in New Hampshire’s efforts related to PFAS contamination in the Merrimack area. In response to a request from NHDES, ORD initiated a project aimed at furthering New Hampshire’s understanding of PFAS compounds in the environment as a result of ongoing air emissions from two facilities that use PFAS in their manufacturing processes. EPA has performed research-level analyses on air, water (ground/surface), soil, char and dispersants, and this information has been used to help inform NHDES’s efforts to develop an air permit for one such facility in Merrimack.
- EPA is the lead in overseeing work being conducted under a RCRA Corrective Action Permit at the Chemours Chambers Works complex located in Deepwater, N.J. Chemours runs a sampling program for private drinking water wells in the vicinity of the facility and when needed, has provided point-of-entry treatment systems or has connected residences to public water supplies. EPA has worked closely with local and state officials and has developed several approaches to assist with public communication. At the request of EPA, Chemours is working on a public web page that will include site-related documents. Chemours is also working on a public participation plan, and has a Community Advisory Panel.
- At the Solvay Specialty Polymers facility in West Depford, N.J, NJDEP is the lead for the site’s remediation program, including PFAS-related mitigation and cleanup activities on and off-site. EPA reviews and provides technical assistance on Solvay’s PFAS investigation work plans and reports. NJDEP requested that EPA scientists collaborate with them to identify PFAS compounds that have been used as replacements for legacy PFAS in industrial applications and to characterize the distribution of legacy PFAS in soil samples they collected in southwestern N.J., including areas adjacent to the Solvay Specialty Polymers and Chemours facilities. EPA’s research identified legacy PFAS compounds in soil samples as well as ten PFAS compounds that appear to be replacements for legacy PFAS previously used in industrial processes in the area. The researchers used these analytical findings to develop contour maps of the presence of new PFAS compounds and legacy PFAS compounds, with the highest concentrations closest to potential industrial sources identified by NJDEP.
- EPA was approached by members of the rural community of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. about perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in their drinking water above the EPA health advisory level that was then in effect. EPA has been working collaboratively with the community and with the state since the agency became involved.
- In March 2019, at the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), ORD sampled emissions to characterize potential residual PFAS and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) air releases from the SGPP-McCaffrey Street facility. In December 2019, NYSDEC reported EPA’s findings to the Mayor and the community that the emissions are free of PFOA and other long-chain legacy perfluorinated carboxylic acids.
- At the request of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), EPA conducted independent laboratory analyses of thousands of water samples collected by NCDEQ at locations in the Cape Fear River to identify the presence and concentration of multiple PFAS chemicals. This included samples of the Chemours outfall, surface water along the Cape Fear River and finished drinking water. This helped inform NCDEQ’s no discharge limitation order, as well as decisions made by drinking water systems along the Cape Fear.
- To address concerns about PFAS from the Chemours facility in Fayetteville, N.C., EPA collaborated with the state of North Carolina to determine the nature and extent of contamination, understand the toxicology and mitigate risks. This included work to support the state's establishment of a health advisory level for GenX in water. NCDEQ and EPA have worked to understand and reduce PFAS releases from the facility and limit exposure. In addition, EPA supported the development of a protocol for stack sampling for PFAS at the facility and continues to coordinate with NCDEQ to better understand the potentially wider range of PFAS chemical in facility air emissions.
- EPA provided technical assistance to the NCDEQ to support the issuance of enforcement orders at Chemours in Fayetteville, N.C. EPA provided analytical support to NCDEQ in the areas of PFAS method development and evaluation of treatment technologies to remove PFAS from drinking water. The administrative order requires significant actions to reduce PFAS contamination associated with the facility.
- EPA manages and provides oversight of Department of Defense (DOD) actions at a complex PFAS contamination issue in Southeast Pennsylvania in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP). The contamination stems from the former Naval Air Development Center and the Willow Grove Naval Air and Air Reserve Station, which are located about two miles apart from each other. Releases from these sites impacted private and public drinking water and surface water with PFAS. In response to levels of PFAS above EPA’s Health Advisory in public and private drinking water, EPA, on behalf of the DOD, took the lead in rapidly providing an alternative water supply and conducted sampling of drinking water at hundreds of homes. Through extensive coordination among federal, state and local authorities, known drinking water exposures have been eliminated and PFAS contributions to surface water mitigated. EPA and PADEP continue to evaluate studies and response actions related to PFAS from these and other potential sites nearby.
- EPA is working with the State of South Dakota, the City of Box Elder, and DOD at Ellsworth Air Force Base to address PFAS contamination, including providing technical assistance and public engagement.
- At the request of West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, EPA scientists analyzed PFAS samples collected during air emission testing at an industrial facility near Parkersburg. The results helped demonstrate the effectiveness of emissions controls for GenX and other legacy perfluorinated carboxylic acids.
- EPA plans to begin testing tribal drinking water sources and will support the state-wide PFAS investigatory work that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality already has underway.
What They Are Saying
“ADEQ appreciates EPA's support to help Arizona prepare to address an emerging drinking water challenge,” said ADEQ Water Quality Division Director Trevor Baggiore. “Through EPA funding, ADEQ will build on our 2018 efforts to assess potential PFAS contamination in Arizona. The information gathered will help ensure public water systems continue to provide healthy drinking water for Arizonans.”
“Guam EPA benefits tremendously from the technical assistance we receive from U.S EPA Region 9,” said Guam EPA Administrator Walter S. Leon Guerrero. “Our island’s ability to evaluate risks associated with PFAS contamination, waste management and containment assessment will flourish with our continued collaboration and broadened support from Region 9.”
“EPA Region 9 staff have provided valuable insights into the occurrence and potential sources of PFAS in public water systems in California. This collaboration helps to inform this state’s regulatory decisions to address sources of PFAS, and to protect public water systems in California,” said State Water Boards Executive Director Eileen Sobeck.
“The PFAS coordination by EPA Region 10 has been very helpful in sharing our approaches and activities with our neighboring states,” said Washington State Department of Health Toxicologist Barbara Morrisey. “As questions come up, Region 10 has been fantastic at bringing in speakers from EPA ORD, Office of Water, and TSCA to keep us informed about the latest EPA tools and research.”
“Addressing PFAS across New England is a priority for EPA in order to further protect public health in the region,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “We’re working closely with our state and tribal partners to advance the science around PFAS where it’s needed most.”
“Working in close partnership with states, tribes, and local communities across the country, EPA is focused on PFAS reductions and protecting public health,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA Region 2 is providing positive and proactive leadership in addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and this area continues to be an active and ongoing priority for EPA.”
“EPA is collaborating with our state and local partners in the Mid-Atlantic Region to address PFAS and mitigate risks to communities,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Our collective efforts are making a difference in determining necessary actions to protect public health and the environment.”
“PFAS is a priority for EPA both nationally and across the Southeast,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “From grants, to technical assistance and research, to enforcement – EPA Region 4 is proud to support and partner with states, tribes and local communities to address the myriad of challenges that these emerging contaminants pose.”
“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.”
“Staff from all Region 7 programs are collaborating with state partners to jointly tackle PFAS contamination at industrial, military and Superfund sites in Kansas and Nebraska,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “PFAS has been around since the 1940s, so solving this challenge requires the considerable collective capabilities of federal, state, tribe and local governments.”
“EPA Region 8 is focused on supporting our federal, state and local partners as they investigate and respond to PFAS concerns affecting water resources in our communities,” said EPA Region 9 Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “I commend our partners in Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming for successfully navigating many challenges to make sure people are receiving safe drinking water. We will continue to provide community engagement, technical expertise, and other resources necessary to secure public health as we move forward with key actions under the national PFAS Action Plan.”
“EPA continues to provide technical support and funding to address this emerging contaminant,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We are working with our partners throughout the Pacific Southwest and in the Pacific Islands to assess the potential risk to drinking water that may be impacted by PFAS contamination in an effort to safeguard water supplies in our region.”
“We’re happy to provide some extra scientific ‘horsepower’ in the effort to protect public health,” said EPA Pacific Northwest Regional Administrator Chris Hladick. “When our state and local partners need a little extra capacity or expertise, we’re honored to deliver that support. Our partnership with states and other federal agencies has furthered national research aimed at better understanding PFAS and PFOA and how to protect our drinking water.”
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used by a variety of industries since 1940. Common applications of PFAS include water and stain repellant materials, as well as fast-acting firefighting products. While the use of older variants of PFAS have been widely discontinued, legacy uses and a lack of commercially viable alternatives to certain public safety products (e.g. fire-fighting foams) have resulted in PFAS contamination in certain areas.
In 2019, EPA issued the PFAS Action Plan – the first multimedia, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address an emerging chemical of concern like PFAS. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the tools EPA is developing to address PFAS in drinking water; identify and clean up PFAS contamination; expand monitoring of PFAS manufacturing; increase PFAS scientific research; and promote effective enforcement tools. Additionally, it outlines EPA’s commitment to take a wide variety of actions to address this emerging chemical of concern in both a short-term and long-term time frame.