EPA Actions to Address PFAS
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA has restored scientific integrity and accelerated the pace of research and actions needed to tackle the PFAS crisis and protect American communities.
Since January 2021, EPA has taken bold actions, including:
In June 2022, EPA released four drinking water health advisories for PFAS. EPA also announced that it is inviting states and territories to apply for $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water, specifically in small and disadvantaged communities.
On June 6, EPA issued its first test order under EPA’s National PFAS Testing Strategy, a key component of the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Test orders under the Toxic Substances Control Act are the first step under the National PFAS Testing Strategy to protect human health and the environment from the potential risks of PFAS. The information from these initial orders will provide the Agency with critical information on more than 2,000 similar PFAS that fall within these categories.
Adding Five PFAS to Contaminated Site Cleanup Tables
In May 2022, EPA took an important step forward to protect people from PFAS by adding five PFAS to a list of risk-based values for site cleanups. These values, known as Regional Screening Levels and Regional Remedial Management Levels, help EPA determine if response or remediation activities are needed. EPA’s action provides the Agency with critical tools needed for Superfund and other Agency programs to investigate contamination and protect people from these PFAS chemicals using the latest peer-reviewed science.
Clean Water PFAS Actions
In April 2022, EPA announced three clean water actions that advance progress under EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap:
Draft Aquatic Life Criteria for PFOA and PFOS
- EPA proposed the first Clean Water Act aquatic life criteria for PFAS, focusing on two of the most well-studied chemicals in this group: PFOA and PFOS. These draft recommendations reflect the latest peer-reviewed scientific knowledge regarding the toxicological effects of PFOA and PFOS on freshwater aquatic organisms.
Addressing PFAS in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permitting
- EPA issued a memo to proactively use its Clean Water Act permitting authorities to reduce discharges of PFAS at the source and to obtain more comprehensive monitoring information on potential sources of PFAS. The memo will help minimize PFAS pollution in surface water as EPA works to set effluent guidelines, develop analytical methods, and issue water quality criteria for PFAS. This memo applies to Clean Water Act programs EPA oversees; EPA plans to issue a subsequent memo that provides guidance to state permitting authorities.
Draft Adsorbable Organic Fluorine Method
- EPA published a new draft method to measure for Adsorbable Organic Fluorine in water samples. This new method, known as draft EPA method 1621, can broadly screen for the presence of chemical substances that contain carbon-fluorine bonds, including PFAS.
Expanding PFAS Monitoring in Drinking Water
- On December 27, 2021, EPA published the final fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, which will require sample collection for 29 PFAS between 2023 and 2025. Consistent with EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, UCMR 5 will provide new data that are critically needed to improve EPA’s understanding of the frequency that 29 PFAS (and lithium) are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels.
Science Advisory Board Review of Draft PFOA/PFOS Scientific Documents
- In November 2021, EPA asked the agency’s Science Advisory Board to review four draft scientific documents including recent scientific data and new analyses that indicate that negative health effects may occur at much lower levels of exposure to PFOA and PFOS than previously understood and that PFOA is a likely carcinogen.
- In October 2021, EPA announced important steps toward evaluating the existing data for four PFAS under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and strengthening the ability to clean up PFAS contamination across the country through the RCRA corrective action process.
- In October 2021, the Agency published a final human health toxicity assessment for GenX chemicals that was authored by expert career scientists and underwent rigorous external peer review and public comment.
National PFAS Testing Strategy
- In October 2021, EPA announced that the Agency is developing a national PFAS testing strategy that intends to use its Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) authorities to require PFAS manufacturers to provide information on PFAS.
PFBA Toxicity Assessment Released for Public Comment
- In August 2021, EPA released a draft assessment of the human health hazards of PFBA for public comment and external peer review.
Released Preliminary Toxics Release Inventory Data on PFAS
- In July 2021, EPA released the first set of preliminary data for PFAS ever collected under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The agency collected data for more than 170 PFAS and is working to further enhance the quality and quantity of reporting under the TRI by removing certain exemptions and exclusions.
Rule Development for designating PFOA/PFOS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances
- In June 2021, EPA restarted the process to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances, one of the most important steps the Agency can take to increase our understanding of the number and location of PFOA and PFOS releases.
Expanding Data Collection Efforts on PFAS
- In June 2021, EPA proposed a rule to require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS in any year since 2011 to give EPA a wide range of data, including on how they are using certain PFAS.
- On April 27, 2021, Administrator Regan called for the creation of a new “EPA Council on PFAS” that is charged with building on the agency’s ongoing work to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals.
Updated Toxicity Assessment for PFBS
- In April 2021, the Agency published an updated toxicity assessment for PFBS that was authored by expert career scientists and underwent rigorous external peer review.
Robust Review Process for new PFAS
- In April 2021, EPA took an important step to protect communities from new PFAS entering the market by announcing an important policy shift in its expedited review of new PFAS.
Establishing a National Primary Drinking Water Standard for PFOA/PFOS
- In February 2021, EPA published a final determination to regulate PFOA and PFOS while also evaluating additional PFAS and considering regulatory actions to address groups of PFAS.
Planning to Conduct Expanded Nationwide Monitoring
for PFAS in Drinking Water
- In February 2021, EPA reproposed and began developing the final Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) to provide new data on 29 PFAS that are critically needed to improve EPA’s understanding of PFAS impacts on community drinking water.