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States Get Serious About PFAS

States Get Serious About PFAS

In the March issue, The Standard covered the US EPA’s Action Plan on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. But several states have already opted to take much bigger steps than those outlined in the US EPA’s Plan. In this issue, we briefly cover some of the most recent action taken by states to investigate PFAS. States are not waiting for the federal government to act on this group of emerging contaminants, and several states have already implemented required sampling and analysis for this class of compounds.

California Releases Phased Investigation Approach to PFAS

On March 6, 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board released its PFAS Phased Investigation Approach. Phase I includes sampling of 31 airports and drinking water wells within a 2-mile radius of airports, 252 municipal solid waste landfills and 353 drinking water wells within a 1-mile radius of the landfills, and 389 drinking water sources and adjacent small systems that were deemed impacted during the US EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) sampling. Results for Phase I sampling will be reported in September 2019. Phase II and III sampling will begin in the summer or fall of 2019 and will include sampling at refineries, bulk terminals, non-airport fire training centers, urban wildfire areas, wastewater treatment and pre-treatment plants, and domestic wells. To learn more about the California Phased Investigation Approach, visit the California State Water Resources Control Board.


New Jersey Releases Maximum Contaminant Levels for PFOA and PFOS

On April 1, 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) proposed maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at 14 ppt and 13 ppt, respectively. NJ DEP had previously set an MCL for PFNA in drinking water of 13 ppt. These limits are the most stringent limits proposed to date and NJ DEP is leading the charge in setting the first MCLs for PFAS compounds. A groundwater cleanup limit for PFNA has been set at 13 ppt; a 10 ppt limit has been proposed for both PFOA and PFOS. Additionally, on March 25, 2019, NJ DEP issued a directive to companies involved in the manufacture and use of PFAS compounds to reimburse or pay for remediating these compounds in the state. See the full directive for more information. 

On April 8, 2019, the NJ DEP sent a letter to US EPA Region II requesting sampling for PFAS, among other emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane and perchlorate, at all US EPA-lead National Priorities List (NPL) sites in New Jersey, including sites that are coming up on the required 5-Year Reviews. NJ DEP recommended Method 537.1 be used to analyze  the full suite of PFAS compounds, including GenX, and prioritization of landfills and sites where chemical wastes may have been disposed.

Pennsylvania Announces Sampling Plan for Public Water Supplies for PFAS

The Pennsylvania DEP (PA DEP) announced the formation of a PFAS Action Team in September 2018. This Action Team has met on several occasions to detail a plan to investigate PFAS contamination in the commonwealth. On April 12, 2019, the PA DEP issued a press release notifying that the sampling of approximately 300 public water supply (PWS) systems would be initiated in May 2019. The PWS systems sampled will be selected based on their proximity to known or common sources of PFAS, such as military bases, fire training sites, airports, and landfills. Six PFAS compounds will be analyzed and reported under the PFAS Sampling Plan; PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, PFHxS, and PFBS were chosen to be consistent with the US EPA’s UCMR3.  View the PA DEP Bureau of Safe Drinking Water PFAS Sampling Plan for more information.

Vermont Legislature Passes Bill Requiring Testing of PFAS in Drinking Water

The Vermont legislature passed a bill that will require all PWS systems in the state to test for five PFAS compounds before December 1, 2019. The combined concentration of the five PFAS compounds must be below 20 ppt, which is the state’s health advisory limit (HAL); Vermont’s HAL is substantially lower than the US EPA’s HAL of 70 ppt (combined total) for PFOA and PFOS. The five PFAS compounds included in the Vermont bill are PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFHpA, and PFNA. If any combination of these five PFAS compounds are detected in a PWS above the 20 ppt Vermont HAL, the PWS system will issue a “do not drink” order to the public until a remedy or treatment is in place to lower the level of PFAS below the 20-ppt HAL. Additionally, the PWS shall continue monitoring for PFAS on a quarterly basis.

While the nation waits for the US EPA to implement MCLs, groundwater cleanup standards, and toxicity information, individual states are not waiting to take action on this large, and still relatively unknown, class of compounds. Nearly every day there is a new action or piece of legislation related to PFAS. In addition to the steps taken by California, Vermont, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania discussed above, there are additional examples of states taking action:  

  • New Hampshire recently introduced legislation that would require US EPA to list PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under CERCLA.
  • The Washington State legislature passed a law that prohibits PFAS in food packaging.
  • The Maine DEP established a requirement for PFAS testing in biosolids.
  • New Hampshire is also suing DuPont, 3M, and others for damage it says has been caused by PFAS.

It is hard to keep up on the new requirements and regulations, but you can be sure that Environmental Standards is monitoring the newsfeeds daily and will keep you informed with the most up–to-date information!

Erin E. Rodgers

Principal Chemist