On October 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitment to Actions 2021-2024, outlining EPA’s actions and timelines for addressing PFAS contamination. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Michael Regan established the Council on PFAS to develop an agency-wide strategy for mitigating current exposure and preventing future contamination. The strategic roadmap, developed by the Council on PFAS, outlines specific actions with timelines that the agency intends to take. EPA’s planned efforts to address PFAS include developing a national testing strategy, various rulemakings, and new guidelines on PFAS levels in different mediums.
PFAS refers to an entire class of approximately 600 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in commerce, of which perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) were historically the most widely used throughout the United States. These chemicals have been found in people, the environment, wildlife and fish all over the world; do not break down easily in the environment; affect people’s health and are the subject of increasing regulation worldwide. The strategic roadmap focuses on research to increase understanding of PFAS, restrictions to proactively prevent these chemicals from entering the environment and remediation of current PFAS contamination. It includes the following:
- Timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act;
- A hazardous substance designation under CERCLA to implement a polluter-pays approach;
- A review of past actions taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to increase insufficient protections;
- A final toxicity assessment for GenX (a type of PFAS) to develop health advisories; and
- Efforts to build the technical foundation on air emissions to inform future action under the Clean Air Act.
As owners, users and co-regulators of water resources, counties are directly impacted by new regulatory standards to address PFAS contamination. Counties support EPA’s efforts and other federal agencies to study the health and environmental impacts of PFAS compounds. Additionally, as the administration moves toward potential regulatory action, counties urge the administration to work closely with state and local governments throughout the rulemaking process.