Ground Water Canada

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EPA’s announcement on PFOA, PFOS an important step: NGWA


February 15, 2019
By Ground Water Canada

Westerville, OH – The National Ground Water Association is applauding an Environmental Protection Agency decision to move forward with the regulatory determination process for PFOA and PFOS and urges the agency to rely on sound science to move as promptly as is feasible.

Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s acting administrator, announced the agency’s PFAS action plan to address growing concerns around PFAS tainted drinking water and ground water in the United States during a press conference in Philadelphia, Pa.

In his address, Mr. Wheeler indicated EPA will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step in the Safe Drinking Water Act process, for establishing a federal maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS by the end of 2019, the NGWA said in a news release. Mr. Wheeler also said the Agency would continue its enforcement actions, clarify remediation strategies, expand monitoring of PFAS in the environment, and enhance the research and science for addressing the contaminants by developing new analytical methods and tools. EPA’s current health advisory level for PFAS is 70 parts per trillion.

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The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) applauds EPA’s decision to move forward with the regulatory determination process for PFOA and PFOS and urges the Agency to rely on sound science to move as promptly as is feasible. Moving towards establishing an MCL will provide the national certainty required to ensure effective cleanup at sites around the country.

“PFAS contamination is a national crisis that requires national leadership, and EPA’s announcement is an important step in providing that leadership,” said Lauren Schapker, government affairs director at NGWA. “As EPA begins implementation of the PFAS management plan, NGWA will continue to work with the Agency to address the unique challenges facing rural areas and private well owners, and to ensure the technical and financial resources are made available to address the crisis.”

NGWA is also encouraged by EPA’s announcement to continue working towards adding PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Including PFAS as a hazardous substance under CERCLA will provide additional regulatory authority to identify and remediate PFAS impacting communities.

“Without the cradle-to-grave framework of federal environmental regulations, states have stepped in to protect residents from PFAS at the point of use in drinking water sources. However, this places the full financial burden of PFAS remediation on water customers and leaves private well owners to independently test and treat their water,” said Seth Kellogg, NGWA Scientists and Engineers Section board member and senior geologist at Geosyntec Consultants. “PFAS-related initiatives in places like Michigan, and across the Eastern and Northeastern regions of the country are remediating contaminated sites and protecting human health but don’t regulate the release of PFOA and PFOS contaminants into the environment. We’ll continue to work with EPA to help prevent future contamination and to educate the public.”

PFAS is a priority issue for NGWA. The association published the first guidance document on the compounds, Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice. The document is a 12-month effort by 36 volunteers spending 1100 hours. Divided into eight sections, it details how the potentially hazardous compounds interact in ground water and soil.

“NGWA felt this particular group of compounds were so unique, persistent, and pervasive we spent 12 months with 36 volunteers, 14 of whom have Ph.D.’s, to research, then develop, this document,” said Kellogg, who served as an author of the document. “As the Association dedicated to the responsible development of ground water we felt it was necessary to explore this emerging contaminant, so our members and the public have the tools necessary to protect the resource of ground water and to minimize health threats.”

In early March, NGWA will hold the group’s annual Groundwater Fly-In and Water Resources Congressional Summit, an event designed to increase the water industry’s profile on Capitol Hill regarding the availability, quality, and safety of our nation’s water resources. Obtaining federal support for the detection and remediation of PFAS contamination will be a core issue during the event.

NGWA has created a ground water and PFAS resource centre on its website that includes an FAQ, top 10 facts, and a PFAS checklist for homeowners, among other resources, and will also host various PFAS-related educational events, including: