Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published in the federal register its notice of availability to comment on its Draft Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Draft Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS).

PFOA and PFOS are both fluorinated organic chemicals that are part of a larger group of chemicals referred to as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). And under Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act, the EPA is instructed to formulate, publish, and occasionally revise water quality criteria. Such criteria should accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge on health and welfare effects of certain pollutants in water bodies; pollutant concentrations and dispersals; and effects of pollutants on biological community diversity, productivity, and stability.

The EPA’s draft recommended aquatic life ambient water quality criteria are intended to be the maximum concentrations of PFOA and PFOS that support protection of freshwater aquatic life from acute and chronic effects. Thus, the draft recommended criteria are intended to delineate PFOA and PFOS toxicity data, measure the chemicals’ toxicity to freshwater organisms, and recommend criteria for both PFAS.

Comments are due on or before June 2, 2022. The final recommended criteria will ultimately provide states and tribes with information that they can consider in adopting their own water quality standards.