In February 2019, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced an action plan (see website link below) regarding Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS compounds, which include Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFOS), represent unique contaminants that have resulted in extensive agency and public interest. These chemicals are recalcitrant, have been linked to causing health issues, and have been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products around the world since the mid-1900s.
The combination of chemical toxicity, persistence in the environment, and worldwide use makes these chemicals a significant problem to address. As outlined in the new action plan, USEPA intends to move forward with the maximum contaminant level (MCL) process for PFOA and PFOS. It is recommended that the USEPA propose a regulatory determination by the end of 2019. USEPA intends to use available enforcement tools to address the PFAS impacts in various states; most states have not yet adopted their own standards for any media. To assist with investigation and characterization, the PFAS action plan includes guidance regarding PFAS characterization, evaluation of cleanup approaches, and necessary communications when PFAS is encountered in a community. The USEPA also notes in the plan that it will continue to work with federal, state, and local communities regarding PFAS detected in the environment.
At this time, the USEPA has not provided official regulatory action for PFAS requiring states to enforce specific standards; however, several states have taken the initiative to address PFAS criteria. The one state leading the way is our very own. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has been on the forefront of developing PFAS regulations and evaluating exposure to the environment. As of March 2019, NJDEP developed and implemented both Drinking Water Quality Standards and Interim Groundwater Quality Standards for PFAS compounds (website link provided below). The NJDEP has also indicated that the person(s) responsible for conducting remediation are required to evaluate if PFAS compounds may be at a site or area of concern (AOC).
Please feel free to contact our office for assistance or if you have questions about the USEPA action plan or NJDEP regulations and requirements related to PFAS compounds.
NJDEP Division of Water Monitoring and Standards: https://nj.gov/dep/wms/bears/gwqs.htm