EPA to Regulate PFAS in Drinking Water

February 24, 2020

On February 20, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposed regulatory determinations for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) — the two most-studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA found regulation warranted because the Agency determined that three criteria were met: the contaminants have potential adverse health effects, are likely to occur with a frequency and at levels of concern in drinking water systems, and regulation may offer an opportunity to reduce health risks. If EPA finalizes its regulatory determination, it will establish a proposed maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) and national primary drinking water regulations (NPDWR) within 24 months. EPA would then have 18 months to publish a final MCLG and promulgate a final NPDWR, which may include MCLs that consider feasibility and cost.  

This announcement advances the priorities outlined in EPA's 2019 PFAS Action Plan, with important consequences for municipalities and industries. The regulations may require expanded monitoring or upgrades to treatment methods for public water supplies. New federal guidelines could potentially lead to further characterization of sources and remediation if these compounds are found in public water supplies. The federal standards could also affect state guidelines and standards and could become cleanup goals for sites affected by PFOA or PFOS.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent's expert consultants in regulatory compliance, contaminant fate and transport, and analytical chemistry help clients navigate the current regulatory landscape and manage their ongoing environmental liabilities. Our multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers considers both state and federal regulations when developing strategic solutions for our clients. Exponent can help select appropriate methods and laboratories for PFAS analyses based on the intended use of the data and assist with source identification, chemical fingerprinting, and fate and transport analyses of PFAS in the environment. Exponent can also assist with reviewing and commenting upon proposed state and federal regulations for PFAS compounds.