By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
As part of a multi-agency effort to address pollution from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on October 18, 2021, the PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024. The Strategic Roadmap includes:
- Timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to ensure water is safe to drink in every community;
- A hazardous substance designation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable;
- Timelines for action -- whether it is data collection or rulemaking -- on Effluent Guideline Limitations under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for nine industrial categories;
- A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address those that are insufficiently protective;
- Increased monitoring, data collection, and research so that EPA can identify what actions are needed and when to take them;
- A final toxicity assessment for GenX that can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions the better to protect human health and ecological wellness; and
- Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA).
EPA also released a national PFAS testing strategy that will require PFAS manufacturers to provide toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS chemicals to inform future regulatory efforts. EPA states that it will select the PFAS to be tested “based on an approach that breaks the large number of PFAS into smaller categories based on similar features and considers what existing data are available for each category.” According to EPA, it will “strategically” select the initial set of test orders from more than 20 different categories of PFAS. EPA expects to use its TSCA Section 4 order authority to require PFAS manufacturers to conduct and fund the studies. EPA plans to issue the first round of test orders by the end of 2021 with additional phases thereafter. More information and a detailed commentary will be available in a forthcoming memorandum that will be posted on our website.