In May 2016, the U.S. EPA established lifetime health advisory levels (“HALs”) for PFOA and PFOS at 70 ppt, separately or combined. EPA’s health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory and provide technical information to states agencies and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methodologies, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. Since establishing HALs for PFOA and PFOS, EPA has also taken the following actions:
- On July 21, 2021, The PFAS Action Act of 2021 passed the lower chamber of the House with bipartisan support, 241-183. The legislation would require EPA to establish national drinking water standards for PFAS.
- On July 12, 2021, EPA included PFAS in the draft of its latest list of water contaminants, which could lead to potential regulation of PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- On June 10, 2021, the EPA withdrew a compliance guide issued in January 2021 that weakened the Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) issued in July 2020, which among other things, prohibits companies from importing certain long-chain PFAS as part of a “surface coating” on articles without prior EPA review and approval. The compliance guidance limited what would be considered a “surface coating” subject to the SNUR, and after further review, the EPA determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR. Examples of articles that could contain the PFAS as part of a surface coating include, but are not limited to, automotive parts, carpet, furniture, and electronic components.
- On May 19, 2021, the EPA announced an update to the Drinking Water Treatability Database with new references and treatment options for PFAS. The update is expected to help states, tribes, local governments, and water utilities make informed decisions to manage PFAS in their communities.
- On April 27, 2021, the EPA called for the creation of a new “EPA Council on PFAS”. The Council is tasked with continuing the EPA’s work to understand potential risks caused by PFAS.
- On April 8, 2021, the EPA released an updated toxicity assessment for PFBS, a member of the larger group of PFAS. The assessment helps the EPA, federal agencies, states, tribes, and local communities determine if and when it is necessary to take action to address potential health risks associated with human exposures to PFBS.
- On February 20, 2020, EPA released an updated list of 172 PFAS chemicals subject to Toxics Release Inventory reporting as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
- On February 20, 2020, EPA issued a supplemental proposal to ensure that new uses of certain persistent long-chain PFAS chemicals in surface coatings cannot be manufactured or imported into the United States without notification and review under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”).
- On September 25, 2019, EPA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would allow the public to provide input on adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory toxic chemical list.
In addition, several bills have been proposed in Congress requiring federal agencies to establish maximum contaminant levels for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, or impose further restrictions under other federal statutes such as TSCA and the Clean Water Act.