PFAS generally refers to a family of substances commonly known as “forever chemicals” because the chemicals do not readily break down in the environment and are bio-accumulative. PFAS can be found in many products, including non-stick cookware, cosmetics, and products advertised as waterproof or water resistant. PFAS are also commonly used in the food industry

On October 18, 2021, EPA issued its, “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024.”  This roadmap sets out EPA’s action plan for minimizing the release of PFAS into the environment.  In the Roadmap, EPA emphasizes the need to “get upstream of the problem” and to “hold polluters accountable.” In the field of hazardous waste, there is a well-established mechanism for minimizing the uncontrolled release of contaminants into the environment, specifically, RCRA’s “cradle-to-grave” tracking system. Under this system, generators of solid waste must determine whether their waste is hazardous.  If so, they must fill out a hazardous waste manifest, which tracks waste from the point of generation to a treatment or disposal facility permitted to safely manage the material. Further, once a new waste enters RCRA’s hazardous waste program, it becomes subject to the land disposal restriction program and EPA must set treatment standards for newly listed wastes within 6 months. 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g).  Continue Reading EPA Must List PFAS as a Hazardous Waste or Pass the Baton to Congress to Take Action 

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.Continue Reading EPA Proposes New Strategy for Regulating PFAS in Drinking Water