PFAS Regulatory Activity Broadens and Intensifies

PFAS Regulatory Activity Broadens and Intensifies

Black & Veatch Monitoring Updates on Upcoming Federal and Local Guideline Changes
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 9:00am

CONTENT: Article

This year has seen an unprecedented amount of regulatory activity aimed at mitigating the effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in our environment and consumer products. This flurry of activity has been accompanied by a spate of announcements from state and local governments, along with publications of technical papers and findings, which all clarify that “the PFAS Challenge” is more complicated than it seems. It is not limited to PFOA and PFAS (two chemicals in the PFAS family of 2,000-4,000+ chemicals) or to drinking water exposure pathways, but rather includes a broader range of contaminants and industries.

Last week, under the Clean Water Act, EPA released Preliminary Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, which describes analyses, studies, and rulemakings related to effluent limitations guidelines (ELGs) and pretreatment standards. It states intentions for revision of ELGs to include limitations on PFAS chemicals for a variety of industries, and to conduct detailed studies on PFAS in wastewater discharges from landfills and other industries that do not yet have PFAS ELGs.

On September 2, EPA published a draft of the first EPA-validated laboratory analytical method to test for PFAS in eight different environmental media including wastewater, surface water, groundwater, and soils. This important step facilitates investigation, monitoring, and regulation of PFAS in these media. Prior to this the only validated methods of PFAS analysis in environmental media were for drinking water, with all other methods derivative of that. Although this is not yet a final published method (third-party validation is not scheduled before 2022), it is an important guidepost to ensure data consistency and applicability for future decision-making about the impacts and occurrence of PFAS contamination.

Several states are regulating a “suite” of PFAS chemicals, which is moving the conversation toward regulating PFAS as a class of chemicals rather than regulating each individually. Minnesota recently set an important precedent in this conversation by using a “Health Risk Index” approach — based on the ratios of six PFAS chemicals to their health-based exposure limits — to prioritize spending of funds made available from the $850 million 3M settlement to address PFAS contamination in the East Metro area of the Twin cities.

As these and more regulatory activities develop nationally, Black & Veatch is monitoring and analyzing the potential impacts across industries. With a large team of environmental and water infrastructure technical, policy, and regulatory experts, Black & Veatch is committed to providing guidance through any PFAS-related issues.

For more information about BV’s full line of PFAS-related services, please contact Jeff Cornell, PhD, Black & Veatch PFAS Practice Lead at CornellJS@bv.com or connect with him on LinkedIn

CATEGORY: Environment