US EPA Announces Drinking Water Health Advisories for Certain PFAS Chemicals

On June 15, 2022, US EPA issued its prepublication discover saying remaining ingesting water well being advisories for PFBS and GenX, in addition to interim ingesting water well being advisories for PFOA and PFOS.1

Drinking water well being advisories are revealed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(1)(F), which permits the US EPA to publish well being advisories for contaminants not topic to any nationwide main ingesting water regulation.2 They’re developed “to provide information on the chemical and physical properties, occurrence and exposure, health effects, quantification of toxicological effects, other regulatory standards, analytical methods, and treatment technology for drinking water contaminants.”3 These well being advisory ranges will not be rules and will not be thought-about legally enforceable requirements.4 Right here, we talk about US EPA’s current announcement and think about the way it might impression industries shifting ahead.

Drinking Water Advisory Ranges for GenX, PFBS, PFOA and PFOS

The just lately introduced advisory ranges embrace the next:

  • Last GenX: 10 ppt

  • Last PFBS: 2,000 ppt

  • Interim PFOA: 0.004 ppt

  • Interim PFOS: 0.02 ppt

The PFOA and PFOS ranges have been revealed as “interim” advisory ranges as a result of the Science Advisory Board continues to be reviewing US EPA’s analyses for these chemical substances.5 In keeping with US EPA’s pre-publication discover, these “interim updated health advisories for PFOA and PFOS supersede EPA’s 2016 health advisories for PFOA and PFOS,” which have been beforehand 70 ppt.6 Thus, the interim advisory ranges mark a drastically decrease degree than that which was finalized through the Obama administration simply six years in the past. 

As anticipated, the announcement prompted various reactions. Main nationwide environmental teams such because the Sierra Membership and Pure Assets Protection Council applauded US EPA’s announcement, however stakeholders have raised main issues with the event of those requirements. As a result of dramatic lower in advisory ranges, the brand new advisory ranges are prone to result in elevated questions and alarm from the general public and media relating to potential dangers of PFAS. Furthermore, entities have raised issues relating to anticipated compliance points provided that such low advisory ranges could set the stage for US EPA’s subsequent motion of growing Protected Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Nationwide Main Drinking Water Rules for PFOA and PFOS, particularly because the well being advisory ranges are presently beneath analytical detection limits.

Nationwide Main Drinking Water Rules for PFOA and PFOS

US EPA will subsequent transfer ahead to develop Most Contaminant Degree Objectives to help SDWA Nationwide Main Drinking Water Rules for PFOA and PFOS. US EPA decided to develop SDWA rules for PFOA and PFOS in March 2021.7 Consequently, by regulation, SDWA rules for these PFAS should be proposed inside 24 months of that dedication and the rule finalized inside 18 months after the proposal.8 In keeping with its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, US EPA intends to suggest the rules by fall 2022 and finalize the foundations by fall 2023.9 The rules will typically take impact three years after promulgation, although this deadline may very well be prolonged for as much as an extra two years.10

Nevertheless, the SDWA most contaminant degree is perhaps set at a degree greater than the well being advisory ranges for these identical compounds, as US EPA should think about prices and advantages when setting most contaminant ranges for the brand new ingesting water rules. In growing most contaminant ranges, US EPA should “publish, seek public comment on, and use” an evaluation of “[q]uantifiable and nonquantifiable costs for which there is a factual basis in the rulemaking record to conclude that such costs are likely to occur solely as a result of compliance with the maximum contaminant level,” in addition to “incremental costs and benefits associated with each alternative maximum contaminant level considered.”11 If US EPA determines that the advantages of a most contaminant degree wouldn’t justify the prices of compliance, it could “after notice and opportunity for comment, promulgate a maximum contaminant level for the contaminant that maximizes health risk reduction benefits at a cost that is justified by the benefits.”12 Consequently, after value consideration, it’s potential that the utmost contaminant ranges is not going to be set as little as the focus thresholds within the well being advisories.

US EPA has additionally beforehand indicated that it’s actively contemplating implications of its proposed rule to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances beneath the Complete Environmental Response, Compensation, and Legal responsibility Act (CERCLA) in planning the brand new ingesting water rules. In April 2022, US EPA indicated that the company will think about prices related to this designation when setting the regulatory requirements. The White Home Workplace of Administration and Finances has been reviewing US EPA’s proposed rule to designate PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous substances since January 2022.

US EPA’s Truth Sheet has recognized measures that US EPA has deemed applicable to cut back PFAS, together with closing contaminated wells or altering the charges of mixing of water sources, the place the obtainable provide will not be affected, or putting in applied sciences resembling granular activated carbon, ion trade or high-pressure membranes.13

IIJA Grant Funding for Rising Contaminants

US EPA additionally introduced US$1 billion in Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act (IIJA) grant funding from the Rising Contaminants in Small or Deprived Communities Grant Program, which can be utilized to cut back PFAS in ingesting water.14 That is the primary of US$5 billion from the IIJA that can be used to handle PFAS within the ingesting water of small or deprived communities. US EPA plans to concern steering later this yr to element eligible funding makes use of and the applying course of. This program will complement the US$3.4 billion going to Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and US$3.2 billion going to Clear Water SRFs.


FOOTNOTES

1 Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisories for 4 Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), FRL 9855-01-OW (June 14, 2022), https://www.epa.gov/system/ files/documents/2022-06/prepublication-four-pfas-june-2022.pdf.

2 Id. at 4.

3 Id.

4 Id.; see additionally 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(1)(F).

5 Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisories for 4 Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), FRL 9855-01-OW, at 4.

6 Id. at 1, 4.

7 Announcement of Last Regulatory Determinations for Contaminants on the Fourth Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate Checklist, 86 Fed. Reg. 12272, 12276 (Mar. 3, 2021).

8 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(1)(E).

9 U.S. EPA, PFAS Strategic Roadmap: U.S. EPA’s Commitments to Motion 2021- 2024 (Oct. 2021), https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-10/ pfas-roadmap_final-508.pdf.

10 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(10).

11 42 U.S.C. § 300g-1(b)(3)(C).

12 Id. § 300g-1(b)(6)(A).

13 See U.S. EPA, Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS: Truth Sheet for Public Water Techniques, at 3, https://www.epa.gov/system/files/ documents/2022-06/drinking-water-ha-pfas-factsheet-water-system.pdf (discussing strategies of decreasing PFAS dangers for public water methods).

14 U.S. EPA, EPA Announces New Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS Chemicals, $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation Funding to Strengthen Health Protections (June 15, 2022), https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/ epa-announces-new-drinking-water-health-advisories-pfas-chemicals-1-billionbipartisan

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