June 8 2020 07:59 AM

NGWA and water associations urge EPA to expedite regulation of PFAS

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The National Ground Water Association and eight of the country’s leading drinking water organizations are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to move expeditiously as it evaluates drinking water standards for two per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS).

In a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the National Ground Water Association, Association of California Water Agencies, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, American Water Works Association, Ground Water Protection Council, Irrigation Association, National Association of Water Companies, National Rural Water Association, and National Water Resources Association asked EPA to employ a holistic regulatory approach that protects source water from PFAS contamination, addresses public health concerns and ensures public confidence.

In February, the EPA announced its proposal to regulate PFOS and PFOA, two PFAS compounds, and requested comment on regulatory approaches for other PFAS. In the absence of a federal standard, several states have moved forward with setting their own regulations for various PFAS.

PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals used in consumer products and industrial processes. In use since the 1940s, they have properties that make them persistent in the environment.

“At NGWA we have always believed good regulations are based on sound science,” says NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “The implications of regulating these substances will be far-reaching so it’s crucial they are crafted with input from the scientific community.”

Three years of testing found that 72% of testing detecting PFOS and PFOA sent to the EPA were found in groundwater.

The following requests are outlined in the letter to the EPA:

1. Provide the resources required to complete the technical and economic analyses necessary to support a proposed SDWA action for PFOA and PFOS.

2. Begin engagement with outside experts to develop and review a public health risk assessment for PFAS beyond PFOA and PFOS to guide determining which PFAS or groups of PFAS should be targeted for data collection and risk management measures.

3. Actively engage water systems, local government, state agencies and other key stakeholders in the practical implementation of PFAS risk management including establishing the adequacy of analytical methods and capacity, effective risk communication and sustainable treatment options, among other important factors.

4. Accelerate research on water treatment, occurrence and health effects to support future decision making and contaminant prioritization.

5. Leverage available regulatory tools in other statutes to gather occurrence and health risk assessment data and organize them to support research and decision making, using regulatory tools that include the Toxics Release Inventory, Sections 4 and 8 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.