New Jersey Finalizes PFAS Drinking Water Standards & Hazardous Substance Listing

June 15, 2020

On June 1, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) finalized new standards for certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water and ground water and designated these PFAS as hazardous substances in the state. Amendments to the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act (NJSDWA) set drinking water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) at 13 ng/L and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at 14 ng/L. Previously, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) was the only PFAS substance with an MCL designated in New Jersey (13 ng/L). In addition to monitoring of public water systems, the new rules require testing private wells subject to sale or lease and testing newly constructed wells.

Amendments to the State's Ground Water Quality Standards (GWQS) establish new enforceable standards of 13 ng/L and 14 ng/L for PFOS and PFOA, respectively. These levels will serve as remediation standards for contaminated ground water cleanup. Additionally, under New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) rules, PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA will be included in both Permit Application Testing Requirements/Pollutant Listings and the Requirements for Discharges to Ground Water. These NJPDES changes pertain to ground water only and are not currently applicable to surface water discharges.

The State's action also adds PFOS and PFOA to the List of Hazardous Substances under the Discharges of Petroleum and other Hazardous Substances (DPHS) rules. Previously, only PFNA was listed by the State in 2018. The new listing comprises multiple forms of PFOS and PFOA (e.g., acids, salts, esters, and anions), as well as PFNA's anionic form, salts, and esters. Notably, this move will establish liability for cleanup and removal costs resulting from PFOA and PFOS discharges under the Spill Compensation and Control Act (the Spill Act). This listing also impacts operators and owners of industrial establishments who are subject to the Industrial Site Recovery Act (ISRA), obligating responsible parties to remediate industrial sites before selling or ceasing business operations.

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; source identification, chemical fingerprinting, and fate and transport analyses of PFAS in the environment; and reviewing and commenting upon proposed state and federal regulations for PFAS compounds.