This week the Biden Administration released their PFAS Strategic Roadmap which sets forth ambitious action on regulation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) pollution, including targeted action with deadlines for eight different federal agencies.  The EPA’s stated goal is to focus on PFAS both upstream and downstream.

Upstream EPA intends to look at evaluating toxicity of various PFAS compounds in a more efficient and accelerated manner.  EPA will target the “modest” number of industries that actually produce PFAS containing products and/or discharge PFAS into the environment reduce PFAS releases into the environment.  EPA states that key industries with significant documented discharges include PFAS production and processing, metal finishing, airports, pulp and paper, landfills, and textile and carpet manufacturing.

Downstream EPA intends to establish both drinking water standards and designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” under CERLCA.  By taking these actions, EPA will have federal regulatory authority to pursue cleanup of PFAS related pollution.  Also, EPA intends to study more effective ways of addressing PFAS related pollution in the environment.

Below is a quick summary of some of the key components of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

Evaluate Toxicity of PFAS Compounds

  • There are hundreds of PFAS compounds and most have limited to no toxicity data
  • EPA will develop a National PFAS Testing Strategy
  • To the extent practicable, EPA will group PFAS compounds to more efficiently evaluate their toxicity
  • EPA is looking to identify data gaps regarding human health and ecological effects
  • To address gaps found, EPA will issue orders under Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 4 authorities to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct and fund studies evaluating toxicity of PFAS compounds
  • EPA states the initial round of Section 4 Order are anticipated by December 2021

Reporting of PFAS Release and Uses

  • EPA wants to collect more information regarding use and release of PFAS compounds even when such uses or release are relatively small in quantity
  • The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) requires companies to report releases of certain chemicals
  • The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act added reporting requirements of PFAS releases for certain industries
  • EPA believed certain exemptions from reporting limited the amount of information the Agency received under TRI reporting
  • EPA intends to propose a rulemaking in 2022 to categorize the PFAS on the TRI list as “Chemicals
    of Special Concern” and to remove the de minimis eligibility from supplier notification requirements for all “Chemicals of Special Concern.” (i.e. even industries with relatively small releases of PFAS will be required to report)
  • EPA proposed a rule in June of 2021 under its TSCA Section 8(a)(7) authority to collect information on any PFAS manufactured since 2011, including information on uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards.  EPA intends to finalize the rule by January 2023.

Regulation of PFOA and PFOS in Drinking Water on an Accelerated Schedule

  • In March 2021, EPA published  a final determination to regulate Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water.
  • EPA expects to issue a proposed regulation in Fall 2022 to establish a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS (before the Agency’s statutory deadline of March 2023).
  • The Agency anticipates issuing a final regulation in Fall 2023.
  • Because the process to establish drinking water standards is lengthy, in the interim, EPA will establish non-binding health advisories for other PFAS compounds, such as the classification of PFAS compounds known as GenX.

Control PFAS Discharges in Wastewater and Stormwater

  • EPA is evaluating establishment of technology based treatment (i.e. Effluent Limit Guidelines) requirements for industries that are known to discharge PFAS such as metal finishing,
    electroplating electrical and electronic components, textile mills, and landfills.
  • EPA will require monitoring under NPDES permits of PFAS in stormwater, including implementation of best management practices (BMPs) to reduce PFAS discharges in stormwater
  • State and local authorities that implement pretreatment programs will be required to include source control and best management practices to reduce discharges of PFAS to downstream wastewater treatment plants

Designate PFOA and PFOS as “Hazardous Substances” under CERCLA

  • EPA is developing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to designate PFOA and PFOS as Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) “hazardous substances” for Spring 2022.
  • Such designations would require facilities across the country to report on PFOA and PFOS releases that meet or exceed the reportable quantity assigned to these substances.
  • Designation of “hazardous substances” will provide clear federal regulatory authority for cleanup of PFOA and PFOS contamination

Targeted Enforcement of “Imminent and Substantial Endangerment”

  • EPA is using current authority to gather information related to sites with high levels of PFAS contamination.
  • EPA is utilizing inspections, information requests,  and data collection to evaluate current risks posed by PFAS at specific sites
  • EPA states it will use existing regulatory authority to take enforcement when it concludes a site presents a “potential imminent and substantial endangerment situation”

Evaluate whether PFAS Compounds should be Designated “Hazardous Air Pollutants” under the Clean Air Act

  • The Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), which are
    pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects.
  • There are currently 187 HAPs
  • EPA will evaluate whether to designated PFAS compounds as HAPs under the Clean Air Act
  • A HAP designation will trigger strict control over PFAS air emissions
  • EPA is targeting the Fall of 2022 to determine whether PFAS compounds should be designated as HAPs

Evaluate Technologies for Destruction and Removal of PFAS

  • Evaluate and develop technologies for removal or treatment of drinking water and wastewater
  • Evaluate technologies for contaminated site remediation, including groundwater treatment technologies
  • Research and evaluate air emission controls to reduce emissions of PFAS compounds
  • Evaluate and research technologies for the destruction and disposal of PFAS-containing
    materials and waste streams, including ensuring destruction technologies do not contribute to the release of PFAS contamination