EPA Releases PFAS Groundwater Guidance

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with PFOA and PFOS.

The guidance recommends:
  • Using a screening level of 40 parts per trillion (ppt) to determine if Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substancesPFOA and/or PFOS is present at a site and may warrant further attention. Screening levels are risk-based values that are used to determine if levels of contamination may warrant further investigation at a site.
  • Using EPA's PFOA and PFOS Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory level of 70parts per trillion (ppt)as the preliminary remediation goal (PRG) for contaminated groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water, where no state or tribal maximum contaminant level (MCL)or other applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs) are available or sufficiently protective. PRGs are generally initial targets for cleanup, which may be adjusted on a site-specific basis as more information becomes available.
Congress is likely to take action on PFAS in drinking water early in the new year. Legislative language that would set drinking water standards for PFAS was not included in the omnibus spending packages signed into law on December 20, and similar language was dropped from the final agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act.

As a result, the House will likely take up H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019, in January. That bill passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on November 20 by a vote of 31-19. The bill requires that within one year of enactment EPA designate PFAS as hazardous under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The overall bill incorporates legislative text from 11 additional Energy and Commerce Committee bills related to PFAS.