Key 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:
Proposed Resource Conservation and Recovery Act PFAS-Related Rules
- In February 2024, EPA released two proposed regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to protect communities from PFAS and other emerging chemicals of concern. These rules would add nine PFAS to the list of RCRA hazardous constituents and would assure that EPA’s regulations clearly reflect EPA’s and authorized states’ authority to require cleanup of the full range of substances that RCRA intended.
Methods for Measuring PFAS in the Environment
- In January 2024, the EPA released three methods to better measure PFAS in the environment:
- Final EPA Method 1633, a method to test for 40 PFAS in wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue.
- Final EPA Method 1621, which can broadly screen for the presence of chemical substances that contain carbon-fluorine bonds, including PFAS, in wastewater.
- Other Test Method (OTM)-50, which measures 30 volatile fluorinated compounds in air.
- Learn more about final Methods 1633 and 1621.
- Learn more about OTM-50.
Requiring Toxics Release Inventory Reporting for Seven Additional PFAS
- In January 2024, the EPA announced the automatic addition of seven PFAS to the list of chemicals covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), consistent with the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. TRI reporting will be required for these seven PFAS for the 2024 reporting year.
Final Significant New Use Rule for Inactive PFAS
- In January 2024, the EPA finalized a rule that prevents companies from starting or resuming the manufacture or processing of 329 PFAS that have not been made or used for many years without a complete EPA review and risk determination. Without this rule, companies could have resumed uses of these PFAS absent notification to and review by the EPA.
Second Annual PFAS Strategic Roadmap Progress Report
- In December 2023, the EPA released its second annual report on PFAS progress. The report highlights significant accomplishments achieved under the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government strategy to protect communities from the impacts of forever chemicals.
- Learn more about the Second Annual PFAS Roadmap Progress Report.
Final Rule to Enhance PFAS Toxics Release Inventory Reporting
- In October 2023, EPA released a final rule that will improve reporting on PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) by eliminating an exemption that allowed facilities to avoid reporting information on PFAS when those chemicals were used in small concentrations. Under this new rule, EPA will receive more comprehensive data on PFAS and looks forward to sharing these data with our partners and the public.
- Learn more about the Final Rule to Enhance PFAS Toxics Release Inventory Reporting.
Final Rule to Require Reporting for PFAS Manufactured and Used in the United States
- In October 2023, EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register that will provide EPA, its partners, and the public with the largest-ever dataset of PFAS manufactured and used in the United States. This final rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) will require all manufacturers (including importers) of PFAS and PFAS-containing articles in any year since 2011 to report information to EPA on PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards.
- Learn more about the Final Rule to Require Reporting for PFAS Manufactured and Used in the United States.
Adding PFAS as a National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative
- In August 2023, EPA finalized its National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives for 2024-2027, including “Addressing Exposure to PFAS.” This initiative will focus on implementing EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and hold responsible those who manufactured PFAS and/or used PFAS in the manufacturing process, federal facilities that released PFAS, and other industrial parties who significantly contributed to the release of PFAS into the environment.
- Learn more about EPA’s NECIs for 2024-2027.
Initial Nationwide Monitoring Data on 29 PFAS in Drinking Water Systems
- In August 2023, EPA released the first set of data collected under the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5). These new data will 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. As part of UCMR 5, EPA is conducting the most comprehensive monitoring effort for PFAS ever, at every large and midsize public water system in America, and at hundreds of small water systems.
- Learn more about UCMR 5 and the data EPA has released.
New Framework to Prevent Unsafe New PFAS from Entering the Market
- In June 2023, EPA released a framework for addressing new and new uses of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The framework will ensure that before these chemicals are allowed to enter into commerce, EPA will undertake an extensive evaluation to ensure they pose no harm to human health and the environment.
- Learn more about the framework to prevent unsafe new PFAS from entering the market.
Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Inform Potential Future CERCLA Regulations
- In April 2023, EPA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) asking the public for input regarding potential future hazardous substance designations of PFAS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund. This request for input and information follows EPA’s September 2022 proposed rule to designate two PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and their salts and structural isomers — as hazardous substances under CERCLA.
National drinking water standard to limit six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- In March 2023, EPA took a key step to protect public health by proposing to establish legally enforceable levels for six PFAS known to occur in drinking water, fulfilling a foundational commitment in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Through this proposed rule, EPA is leveraging the most recent science and building on existing state efforts to limit PFAS to provide a nationwide, health-protective level for these specific PFAS in drinking water.
$2 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding for PFAS and Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water
In February 2023, EPA announced the availability of $2 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address emerging contaminants, including PFAS, in drinking water across the country. This investment, which is allocated to states and territories, will be made available to communities as grants through EPA’s Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities grant program. These funds will promote access to safe and clean water in small, rural, and disadvantaged communities while supporting local economies.
Inactive PFAS Significant New Use Rule
- In January 2023, EPA proposed a rule that would prevent anyone from starting or resuming, without a complete EPA review and risk determination, the manufacture, processing or use of an estimated 300 PFAS that have not been made or used for many years, known as “inactive PFAS.” In the past, these chemicals may have been used in many industries in a variety of ways, including as binding agents, surfactants, sealants and gaskets, and may also have been released into the environment. Without this proposed rule, companies could resume uses of these PFAS absent notification to and review by EPA.
Final Effluent Limitations Guidelines Plan 15
- In January 2023, EPA released its final Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs) Plan 15, including a determination that revised ELGs and pretreatment standards are warranted for reducing PFAS in leachate discharges from landfills. Plan 15 also announced an expansion of the ongoing study of PFAS discharges from textile manufacturers and a new study of POTW influents to publicly owned treatment works.
PFAS Analytic Tools
In January 2023, EPA released a new interactive webpage, called the PFAS Analytic Tools, which bring together multiple sources of information on PFAS in one place. These tools will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities.
Memo on Addressing PFAS in Clean Water Act Permitting
- In December 2022, EPA issued a companion memo providing guidance to states on how to use the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program to reduce harmful PFAS pollution. This memo expands upon an earlier memo issued to EPA Regions in April 2022 and is a critical step in EPA’s efforts to restrict PFAS at their source.
Proposed Rule to Enhance Reporting of PFAS Data to the Toxics Release Inventory
On December 5, 2022, EPA proposed a rule that would improve reporting PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) by, among other proposed changes, eliminating an exemption that allows facilities to avoid reporting information on PFAS when those chemicals are used in small, or de minimis, concentrations. Because PFAS are used at low concentrations in many products, this rule would ensure that covered industry sectors and federal facilities that make or use TRI-listed PFAS will no longer be able to rely on the de minimis exemption to avoid disclosing their PFAS releases and other waste management quantities for these chemicals.
- Read more about the proposed rule to enhance reporting of PFAS data to the Toxics Release Inventory.
Proposed Hazardous Substance Designation for PFOA and PFOS
On August 26, 2022, EPA issued a proposal to designate two of the most widely used PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, or Superfund. This rulemaking would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.
New Drinking Water Health Advisories and $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding
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.
National PFAS Testing Strategy Test Order
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.
Initiation of Two Rulemaking Efforts Under RCRA
- 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.
Final Human Health Toxicity Assessment for GenX Chemicals
- 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.