EPA Releases Second Annual PFAS Report

MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2023


On Thursday (Dec. 14), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its second annual report highlighting the objectives that were achieved under its PFAS Strategic Roadmap. 

According to the agency’s release, the report outlines goals to restrict, remediate and research per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, with a focus on reaching basic health protections for U.S. citizens.

EPA Roadmap Progress

“This PFAS Roadmap progress report illustrates EPA’s ongoing commitment to protect people from the harmful effects of forever chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

“By combining science-based solutions, historic funding, and impactful regulations, EPA is following through on the vision set out in our Roadmap—to protect people, achieve environmental justice, and improve the lives of hardworking families across America.”

The agency states that this new report shows how the current PFAS progress aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s "all of government strategy" to address issues stemming from PFAS.

According to the EPA's release, major accomplishments in 2023 included efforts to:

  • Make PFAS use safer: The EPA finalized rules for new PFAS reporting, issued a framework for reviewing PFAS to make sure they are used as safely as possible and proposed to eliminate exemptions for new PFAS and restrict certain legacy PFAS.
  • Hold polluters accountable: The EPA reportedly proposed to list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the nation’s Superfund law, also planning to issue a final rule in early 2024. This would reportedly give the agency the power to improve transparency around PFAS releases, help ensure that polluters pay for treatment and cleanup and help communities that are facing pollution quickly receive protections.
  • Protect America’s drinking water and identify the scale of exposure: The EPA reportedly proposed the first national drinking water standard for six PFAS in March 2023. Also, to better understand where PFAS exist and how people are being exposed to them, it initiated nationwide monitoring for 29 PFAS at over 10,000 public water systems under the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.
  • Deploy infrastructure funding to invest in infrastructure projects to address PFAS in water: Many communities reportedly need to install new infrastructure and treatment technologies to address PFAS in drinking water and wastewater. Through President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the EPA will reportedly grant $10 billion to remove PFAS and other emerging contaminants. Over half of this money will reportedly go to disadvantaged communities. 
  • Turn off the tap at industrial polluters: The EPA has reportedly taken steps to use permitting and regulatory authority of the Clean Water Act to reduce PFAS pollution in U.S. waters, including regulations to limit PFAS discharges from PFAS manufacturers, metal finishers and landfills.
  • Incorporate equity and environmental justice across the EPA’s actions: The EPA plans to work to give all communities equitable access to solutions, to advance the goals of President Biden’s Executive Order 14096, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All and to integrate recommendations from the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
  • Advance the science: The EPA has reportedly continued building the scientific foundation on PFAS through research and development. The agency is now reportedly investing in research to fill gaps in current knowledge of PFAS, identifying which additional PFAS may pose human health and ecological risks which exposure levels and to develop methods to test, measure, remove, and destroy them.
  • Listen to communities and incorporate environmental justice: The EPA reportedly held listening sessions with community members affected by PFAS in each of its 10 Regions, as well as a session designed for Tribal partners. Feedback shared during these sessions is reportedly helping communities with environmental justice concerns get access to information and solutions.

“One thing is clear: Americans don’t have to choose between clean air, land, and water or a prosperous, vibrant, and secure nation,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox and co-chair of EPA’s Council on PFAS.

“As our whole of agency progress clearly illustrates, we are protecting people’s health while catalyzing research and innovation, fueling new markets and jobs, and prioritizing equitable infrastructure and treatment solutions for all people in this country.”

The release states that this effort is led by the White House and involves collaborations with the Council on Environmental Quality. Additionally, the Office of Science and Technology Policy is anticipated to lead an interagency expert working group of federal technical and scientific leaders.

The EPA states that in collaboration with its partners, steps are being taken towards improving interagency coordination and advancing work on research, analytical methods, contaminated site cleanup and other areas.

Looking ahead to the new year, the EPA expects to continue its 2023 progress with actions that include:

  • Finalizing national drinking water standards for many PFAS;
  • Taking final action to list certain PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA;
  • Proposing Effluent Limitation Guidelines for PFAS manufacturers;
  • Issuing guidance on destroying and disposing of PFAS;
  • Finalizing new methods to monitor for PFAS in a wide range of media; and
  • Proposing rules designating certain PFAS as hazardous constituents under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

PFAS Strategic Roadmap

In October of 2021, Regan announced the creation of the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap to address contamination regarding PFAS.

The PFAS Strategic Roadmap officially set a series of timelines for the EPA to take specific actions and set bolder policies regarding PFAS. In addition, the plan also pledges to conduct more research and testing on hundreds of other PFAS, potentially listing additional compounds as hazardous substances in the future to better safeguard public health, protect the environment and hold polluters accountable.

In July of this year, the EPA released a framework for addressing new and new uses of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances to ensure that they would not harm human health and the environment.  

According to the agency, the framework took a planned approach to review new and new uses of PFAS to ensure that they are extensively evaluated prior to allowing the chemicals to enter into commerce. Additionally, the framework advanced the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) section 5, the EPA was reportedly required to review new chemicals within 90 days, assess the potential risks to human health and the environment of the chemical and make one of five possible risk determinations. Then, the EPA would have had to take action to mitigate potential risks before the chemical could enter commerce.

The framework would also apply to new PFAS or new use notices that are currently under EPA review, as well as any that EPA may receive in the future. The agency anticipated holding a public webinar about the framework later this summer.

Also, in October, the EPA finalized a rule that was anticipated to create the largest-ever data set of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the United States.

According to the agency's press release, the rule was a key action in the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

The requirement under the Toxic Substances Control Act is reportedly a statutory requirement under the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), mandating that all manufacturers and importers of PFAS and PFAS-containing articles in any year since 2011 must report information related to chemical identity, uses, volumes made and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure and disposal to the EPA.

The final rule reportedly expanded on the PFAS definition in the proposed rule, including 41 additional PFAS that were identified as being of concern. The EPA said it had determined that at least 1,462 PFAS that are known to have been made or used in the U.S. since 2011 would be subject to the final rule.

According to the EPA, the final rule streamlined reporting requirements and reduced the burden for those who made or used small quantities of PFAS for research and development purposes, as well as those who imported PFAS contained in articles.

Data was reportedly to be due to the agency within 18 months of the effective date of the final rule, with an additional six months for reports from small businesses that are solely reporting data on importing PFAS contained in articles.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Government; hazardous materials; Hazardous waste; Hazards; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; non-potable water; North America; potable water; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Safety; Water/Wastewater

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