EPA Taking Steps Towards PFAS Regulation

December 11, 2019


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Exponent Staff

On December 4, 2019, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a proposed regulatory determination for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the White House Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. On the same day, EPA also began seeking input on whether to add certain PFAS to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Both actions advance the priorities outlined in EPA's PFAS Action Plan published earlier this year, with important potential consequences for the energy industry and manufacturers of textiles, apparel, and metals, among other products.

  • Currently, there is no federal maximum contaminant level (MCL) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two of the most studied PFAS compounds. Should EPA determine that regulatory action is warranted for PFOA and PFOS, new federal guidelines could potentially lead to further characterization of sources, and potentially to remediation, if these compounds are found in public water supplies. Some states, including California, already require characterization of ambient levels near likely sources and in public water systems.
  • Adding certain PFAS to the TRI would increase reporting requirements and could reveal potential liabilities for industrial facilities that manufacture or use those chemicals in amounts above the reporting thresholds. Currently those thresholds are 25,000 lbs for manufacturing or processing and 10,000 lbs for other uses, but EPA is considering applying lower thresholds.

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' needs. Exponent can help with selecting appropriate methods and laboratories for PFAS analyses based on the intended use of the data, and Exponent's scientists and engineers can 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 the PFAS compounds.