EPA announces PFAS action plan
Posted February 18, 2019
On February 14, EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the Agency’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan to address PFAS, synthetic chemicals that do not break down in the environment and have been shown to adversely affect human health.
PFAS are found in a range of products, such as clothing, carpets, adhesives, paper packaging for food, heat-resistant/non-stick cookware, and firefighting foam, and have been found in drinking water in areas where the chemicals are produced.
EPA’s Action Plan describes long- and short-term actions the Agency is taking:
- Drinking water: EPA is moving forward with the maximum contaminant level (MCL) process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for two of the most well-known and prevalent PFAS chemicals. By the end of 2019, EPA will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step in the SDWA process for establishing an MCL.
- Clean up: EPA has already begun the regulatory development process for listing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as hazardous substances and will issue interim groundwater cleanup recommendations for sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS.
- Enforcement: EPA will use available enforcement tools to address PFAS exposure in the environment and assist states in enforcement activities.
- Monitoring: EPA will propose to include PFAS in nationwide drinking water monitoring under the next Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Program. The Agency will also consider PFAS chemicals for listing in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to help it identify where these chemicals are being released.
- Research: EPA will develop new analytical methods so that more PFAS chemicals can be detected in drinking water, soil, and groundwater. EPA’s research efforts also include developing new technologies and treatment options to remove PFAS from drinking water at contaminated sites.
- Risk communications: EPA will work across the agency and the federal government to develop a PFAS risk communication toolbox that includes materials that states, tribes, and local partners can use to communicate with the public.
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