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U.S. EPA Administrator Announces Comprehensive National Strategy to Confront PFAS Pollution

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October 19, 2021Soraya VargasBlog

On 18 October 2021 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the agency’s comprehensive, nationwide Strategic Roadmap to confront per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination.

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The EPA's PFAS Strategic Roadmap is the result of a thorough analysis conducted by the EPA Council on PFAS that was established in April 2021. This PFAS Strategic Roadmap is centered on three guiding strategies: increase investments in research, leverage authorities to take imminent action to restrict PFAS chemicals' release into the environment, and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination.

The PFAS Strategic Roadmap is consistent with the EPA's mission to protect public health and the environment and answers the call for action on these persistent and dangerous chemicals. Additionally, the EPA is announcing a new national testing strategy that requires PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS chemicals. The PFAS to be tested will be selected based on an approach that breaks the large number of PFAS into smaller categories based on similar features and considers existing data for each category. The EPA’s initial set of test orders for PFAS are expected in a matter of months and will be strategically selected from more than 20 different PFAS categories. This set of orders will provide the agency with critical information on more than 2,000 other similar PFAS that fall within these categories.

The PFAS Strategic Roadmap lays out the following actions:

  • Aggressive timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • A hazardous substance designation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable
  • Timelines for action on effluent guideline limitations for nine industrial categories under the Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address those that are found to be insufficiently protective
  • Increased monitoring, data collection, and research so that the EPA can identify what actions are needed and when to take them
  • A final toxicity assessment for GenX, which can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness
  • Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA)

The EPA’s Strategic Roadmap is a critical step forward in addressing PFAS pollution. Every level of government—from local, to state, to Tribal, to federal—will need to continue to make progress on PFAS. President Biden has called for more than $10 billion in funding to address PFAS contamination through his Build Back Better agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. These critical resources will enable the EPA and other federal agencies to scale up their research and work to meet the scale of the PFAS challenge.

Background

In April 2021, the EPA Council on PFAS was established to address the dangerous impacts of PFAS contamination and meet the needs of the EPA’s partners and communities across the U.S. To date, the agency has taken the following steps:

  • Launched a national PFAS testing strategy
  • Restarted the rule development process for designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as CERCLA hazardous substances
  • Built momentum to set national primary drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS
  • Announced actions to stop companies from dumping PFAS into America’s waterways
  • Formed a workgroup to champion regulating PFAS as categories
  • Proposed a rule to expand data collection efforts on PFAS
  • Started planning to conduct expanded nationwide monitoring for PFAS in drinking water
  • Announced a robust review process for new PFAS
  • Released preliminary Toxics Release Inventory data on PFAS
  • Updated a toxicity assessment for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) after rigorous scientific review
  • Released a draft PFBA toxicity assessment for public comment and external peer review 
     

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Businesses that use PFAS should continue to monitor the EPA's actions with respect to this PFAS Strategic Roadmap, as they signal the potential for more stringent future regulations restricting PFAS use and disposal.

Over the coming weeks, the EPA will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to continue to identify solutions to the PFAS challenge. The agency will also host two national webinars that will be held on October 26 and November 2. Please RSVP to the webinars using the hyperlinked dates.








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