State of California Issues Proposed Public Health Goals for PFOA and PFOS

Running water from a faucet

August 11, 2021

California takes first step in developing drinking water standards for PFOA & PFOS

On July 22, 2021, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued proposed Public Health Goals (PHGs) for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) — in drinking water. OEHAA's proposed PHGs are 0.007 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 1 ppt for PFOS for cancer endpoints and 3 ppt for PFOA and 2 ppt for PFOS for non-cancer endpoints.

Though PHGs are non-regulatory, they are used as a health basis to develop primary drinking water standards in California (i.e., Maximum Contaminant Levels, or MCLs). Therefore, these PHGs are viewed as the first step in developing MCLs for PFOA and PFOS in the state. MCLs are regulatory thresholds that will be used in the design and permitting of drinking water treatment facilities.

OEHHA defines PHGs as contaminant concentrations in drinking water that pose no significant acute or chronic health risks. PHGs are based exclusively on public health considerations, as required by the California Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996. OEHHA initiated the development of these PHGs in response to a request from the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

OEHHA's draft technical support document describes the calculation of the proposed PHGs and information on PFOA and PFOS health effects. OEHHA will hold a virtual public workshop on September 28, 2021.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent's expert consultants in regulatory compliance consider both state and federal regulations when developing strategic solutions for our clients' needs. Our multi-disciplinary team of environmental scientists and chemical engineers can help evaluate permitting requirements, choose qualified laboratories for monitoring analysis, and validate PFAS data to ensure usability and compliance. Our experts can also assist with source identification, chemical fingerprinting, and fate and transport analyses of PFAS in the environment, as well as reviewing and commenting on proposed state and federal regulations for PFAS compounds.