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EPA to Regulate PFAS/PFOS Under Safe Water Drinking Act

EPA to Regulate PFOA/PFOS Under Safe Drinking Water Act

Following Shelley Moore Capito’s February 17, 2021 letter to Ronald Klain (President Biden Chief of Staff), US EPA yesterday announced that it intends to promulgate a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Mr. Klain issued a memorandum on January 20, 2021, which directed that new or pending rules be frozen from publication in the Federal Register until the Biden Administration approved of them. Among those regulations frozen, was the regulatory determination to develop primary drinking water standards for the two PFAS chemicals. 

“All people need access to clean and safe drinking water. One way that EPA is committed to keeping our communities safe is by addressing PFAS,” said US EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “These actions will underpin better science, better future regulation, and improved public health protections.”

According to the February 22, 2021 US EPA press release , with the final Regulatory Determinations for PFOA and PFOS, US EPA will move forward to implement the national primary drinking water regulation development process for these two PFAS. The Regulatory Determinations also outline avenues that the agency is considering to further evaluate additional PFAS chemicals and provide flexibility for the agency to consider groups of PFAS as supported by the “best available science.”

The US EPA Acting Administrator, Jane Nishida, signed the rule on 2/22/2021, and US EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register. The official version will appear in a forthcoming Federal Register publication, which will be available on the Government Printing Office’s FDsys website ( It will also be included on ( in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0583.

Additionally, US EPA announced the release of the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule list (UCMR 5). The proposed UCMR 5 should provide new data that are needed to help US EPA understand the frequency of 29 PFAS found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels. US EPA will accept public comment on the proposed UCMR 5 for 60 days, following publication in the Federal Register. US EPA will also hold a virtual stakeholder meeting twice during the public comment period.

The official version of the UCMR 5 will be included in a forthcoming Federal Register publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office’s FDsys website listed above. It will also appear on in Docket No. EPAHQ-OW-2020-0530. 

Gerry Kirkpatrick, P.G.

Managing Partner