Following up on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) September 6th publication of a proposed rule to designate Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS)(collectively known as, PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), on December 6th EPA issued guidance on how states can utilize National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit programs to monitor for PFAS discharges and, if detected, act to reduce them before they are discharged to wastewater treatment facilities. PFAS has been linked to various adverse health effects, including cancer, and can accumulate and persist in the environment and human body for long periods of time (hence their nickname as “forever” chemicals). They have historically been found in various consumer products, such as fabrics and nonstick products; food packaging and cookware; and used in firefighting at airfields or as part of industrial processes
By issuing this most recent guidance, EPA seeks to empower states by allowing them to leverage their pretreatment and permitting authorities to identify PFAS in wastewater and take actions such as imposing technology-based limits where PFAS discharges originate. In turn, this comprehensive monitoring data will aid EPA’s goal of source-control, as well as develop a database of PFAS concentrations in various industry-based wastewater streams. As EPA works to promulgate effluent guidelines, finalize analytical methods for detection and publish water quality criteria, EPA considers such guidance a crucial step in their effort to exposure pathway reduction by lowering the amount of PFAS entering the environment.