After much anticipation in the environmental community, EPA has announced proposed enforceable drinking water standards for six PFAS compounds, including PFOA and PFOS.

Unlike the agency’s two prior health advisories, these maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), if finalized, will set legally enforceable compliance standards for drinking water. Of interest is that EPA set the new proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS at the practical quantitation level (PQL), defined as the “lowest concentration of a contaminant that can be reliably achieved within specified limits of precision and accuracy during routine laboratory operating conditions.” According to EPA, “EPA has determined that PFOA and PFOS are likely carcinogens (i.e., cancer causing) and that there is no level of these contaminants that is without a risk of adverse health effects. Therefore, EPA is proposing the set the MCL for these two contaminants at four parts per trillion, the lowest feasible level based on the ability to reliably measure and remove these contaminants from drinking water.” Thus, although the proposed enforceable MCLs are higher than EPA’s 2022 Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS, which were set based on health risks, the proposed new MCLs are still set at essentially the instrument detection levels.

For the four additional PFAS (PFHxS, GenX chemicals, PFNA, and PFBS), EPA is proposing a different – and more complicated – regulatory strategy based on a Hazard Index, which considers increased risks from mixtures of PFAS detected in drinking water. Under this approach, water systems will be required to use EPA’s “calculator tool,” which divides the concentration of each of the four PFAS compounds by their respective hazard based water concentration to arrive at a value. The total value yielded by this equation cannot be greater than 1.0, which is the Hazard Index MCL.

EPA reportedly received over 60,000 comments on its recent proposal to list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under Superfund. Because of the fundamental importance of clean drinking water to human health, this new – and long-awaited – proposed rule on drinking water standards should also attract significant attention from the regulated community. The pre-publication version of the proposed rule can be found here.

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Photo of Philip Comella Philip Comella

Phil’s practice spans both regulatory counseling and environmental-based litigation. With nearly four decades of experience in environmental law and a focus on the solid and hazardous waste industry, he regularly counsels owners and operators of landfills, treatment facilities, recycling operations, and waste generators…

Phil’s practice spans both regulatory counseling and environmental-based litigation. With nearly four decades of experience in environmental law and a focus on the solid and hazardous waste industry, he regularly counsels owners and operators of landfills, treatment facilities, recycling operations, and waste generators on compliance, enforcement, and litigation matters arising under the environmental laws  He has worked on a number of precedent-setting lawsuits involving the alleged contamination of private and public drinking water supplies with PFAS-containing landfill leachate; counseled clients on PFAS compliance, and represented landfills in PFAS enforcement actions.

Photo of Rob Bilott Rob Bilott

A seasoned and internationally recognized litigator, advocate, and author, Rob has handled and led some of the most novel and complex cases in the country involving damage from exposure to PFAS, including the first individual, class action, mass tort, and multi-district litigation proceedings…

A seasoned and internationally recognized litigator, advocate, and author, Rob has handled and led some of the most novel and complex cases in the country involving damage from exposure to PFAS, including the first individual, class action, mass tort, and multi-district litigation proceedings involving PFAS, recovering over $1 billion for clients impacted by the chemicals.  He has gained international prominence in connection with uncovering and disclosing the world-wide impact of environmental contamination by PFAS. His story is chronicled in his book, “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle against DuPont,” and is the inspiration for the feature film, “Dark Waters” and documentary, “The Devil We Know.”

Rob currently serves in key leadership positions in on-going PFAS litigation all across the country, including national plaintiffs’ Advisory Counsel in thousands of cases consolidated in on-going multi-district litigation involving PFAS in certain firefighting foams, in addition to being class counsel for millions of people seeking medical monitoring and health studies on PFAS.

Photo of Frank Deveau Frank Deveau

For over 35 years, Frank has represented clients in relation to all aspects of environmental law. He serves as chair of Taft’s Environmental Practice and has significant experience advising or representing clients in a wide range of matters including PFAS, environmental litigation, environmental…

For over 35 years, Frank has represented clients in relation to all aspects of environmental law. He serves as chair of Taft’s Environmental Practice and has significant experience advising or representing clients in a wide range of matters including PFAS, environmental litigation, environmental compliance and permitting, administrative proceedings, environmental and real estate transactions, insurance recovery, and Superfund/CERCLA.

Photo of Chase Dressman Chase Dressman

Chase has worked for more than a decade on PFAS-related matters, including with groundbreaking environmental attorneys at Taft responsible for precedent-setting PFAS decisions and outcomes, including the seminal work of Rob Bilott and other Taft team members on major PFAS contamination and exposure…

Chase has worked for more than a decade on PFAS-related matters, including with groundbreaking environmental attorneys at Taft responsible for precedent-setting PFAS decisions and outcomes, including the seminal work of Rob Bilott and other Taft team members on major PFAS contamination and exposure cases that were detailed in the motion picture “Dark Waters.”  Chase routinely advises clients with managing PFAS implications for product sourcing and supply decisions (including related contractual and transactional considerations), and with responding to and managing demands for investigation and remediation of PFAS contamination.  

Photo of Erica Spitzig Erica Spitzig

Erica has significant experience representing clients on Clean Water Act matters, and has worked extensively with municipalities on clean water legal and regulatory issues. She also represents clients on a wide array of environmental matters. She assists clients with permitting and compliance involving…

Erica has significant experience representing clients on Clean Water Act matters, and has worked extensively with municipalities on clean water legal and regulatory issues. She also represents clients on a wide array of environmental matters. She assists clients with permitting and compliance involving a variety of media and statutes, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Federal Insecticide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), among other federal, state and local environmental laws. Erica also has extensive experience with Brownfields laws and regulations, and works with clients to remediate properties contaminated by long histories of industrial use under CERCLA and state laws, including the Ohio Voluntary Action Program. She also routinely litigates environmental cases in state and federal court, including matters involving RCRA, CERCLA, and other state and federal environmental laws.

Photo of Arthur Siegal Arthur Siegal

For over 35 years Arthur has represented clients dealing with all aspects of environmental law including governmental regulations, permitting, and compliance, assisting clients in corporate and real estate acquisitions with assessing and managing liabilities, and helping clients obtain brownfield redevelopment incentives.