PFAS REGULATIONS

Home / PFAS Regulations

EPA LEADING THE WAY

While PFAS regulations may start in Congress, the laws passed typically grant the EPA the authority to define the details. On this page, we’ll outline the primary programs with which Pace® helps its customers comply as well as a few we’re keeping a close eye on.

FAST TRACK YOUR LEARNING CURVE

Need to get up to speed quickly? Our technical and regulatory briefings will provide your team with updates on the latest EPA and state-specific regulations pertaining to your organization. These private sessions will also give you an opportunity to ask our PFAS and other emerging contaminants experts any questions you have on the science or the regulations.

SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT (SDWA)

Enacted in 1974, the SDWA established a data-driven and risk-based process to assess drinking water contaminants of emerging concern. Key elements of the SDWA that Pace® clients need to be aware of include:
  • The fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) will require many more public water systems (PWS) to begin sampling for PFAS in 2023.
  • The SDWA grants the EPA the authority to set National Primary Drinking Water regulations. A proposed rule for PFOA and PFOS is expected in late 2022.
  • Under the SDWA, the EPA also plans to publish updates to the current validated test methods to expand the list of PFAS compounds that can be analyzed for in drinking water samples.

UCMR 5

The SDWA requires the EPA to issue a new list of 30 contaminants to be monitored by public water systems (PWS) every five years. Candidates for the list of contaminants are chemicals and microbes suspected to be present in drinking water, but for which there are no established health-based standards set under the SDWA. Inclusion on the UCMR contaminant list can be a precursor to future rulemaking, as in the case of PFOA and PFOS. 

The Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) includes 29 PFAS plus lithium – more PFAS than any other previous UCMR. In addition, UCMR 5 will expand the number of PWS that need to begin sampling in 2023 to those serving 3300 or more customers. A randomly selected group of 800 small systems will need to begin sampling as well.

Pace® has received EPA approval to offer UCMR 5 testing services. Reach out to us for project planning assistance or to request a quote.

CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA)

While the SDWA is primarily focused on drinking water, the CWA covers all waters, including non-potable. Currently, the EPA is working with the DOD to develop a new method (currently designated Draft Method 1633) for analyzing up to 40 specific compounds in non-potable waters, such as wastewater, groundwater, and surface waters. Once validated, the CWA grants the EPA the authority to promulgate this method and paves the way for more stringent sampling and testing requirements in other EPA programs.

NATIONAL POLLUTION DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM (NPDES)

The NPDES permitting program is the primary program used by the EPA to reduce PFAS in wastewater discharge. However, only a handful of states and U.S. territories rely on the EPA for permitting. The CWA gives the EPA the authority to authorize states to administer their own NPDES program, and most states have elected to do so. Naturally, the state-led programs mirror the EPA’s NPDES permitting parameters. Once Draft Method 1633 is finalized and validated, the EPA and state-led NPDES permitting programs will have a powerful tool in their fight to limit PFAS in wastewater discharge.

EFFLUENT LIMITATION GUIDELINES (ELGS)

A component of the NPDES program, ELGs establish national technology-based regulatory limits for specified pollutants in wastewater discharge. Once validated, Draft Method 1633 will allow the EPA (and state-administered NPDES permitting programs) to monitor for up to 40 PFAS in wastewater discharge. The EPA is also conducting an extensive study of PFAS discharge across multiple industries and expects to make significant progress on its ELGs by 2024.

CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA)

The CAA, enacted in 1963, authorizes the EPA to regulate hazardous air pollutants. Only recently has airborne PFAS received much attention, so PFAS are not yet identified as a pollutant under the CAA. The EPA is currently studying sources of PFAS air emissions and their impact on communities. The results of this research will be used to inform future rulemaking under the CAA.

COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE, COMPENSATION, AND LIABILITY ACT (CERCLA)

The EPA plans to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA by late 2023. The agency is also considering the designation for other PFAS compounds. Once a compound is designated as hazardous under CERCLA, the EPA and other agencies have greater authority to mandate cleanup of contaminated sites. (Frequently referred to as Superfund sites.) Of course, it can be challenging to determine the source of PFAS, especially when the contamination may stem from industrial activity that occurred decades ago.

RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT (RCRA)

Enacted in 1976, RCRA governs the disposal of solid and hazardous waste. While designating PFAS a hazardous substance under CERCLA gives the EPA the authority to mandate cleanup, designating PFAS a hazardous substance under RCRA allows the EPA much greater control over the entire lifecycle of PFAS: manufacturing, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. Listing PFAS under RCRA would also automatically designate it as a hazardous substance under CERCLA. The EPA’s 2021-2024 Strategic Plan mentions RCRA as one of the tools it has at its disposal, but it does not specify any specific goals or actions. Our PFAS experts at Pace® are keeping a close eye on this one.

TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL ACT (TSCA)

The TSCA program, first enacted in 1976, grants the EPA the authority to establish reporting, record-keeping, and testing requirements for chemical compounds. The TSCA Inventory is a published list of the chemical substances manufactured or processed (including imports) in the U.S. Since little is known about the toxicity of the more than 600 PFAS in use commercially, the EPA’s 2021-2024 Strategic Plan calls for additional studies to be conducted. Under the authority granted to the agency by the TSCA, the EPA expects PFAS manufacturers to fund most of these studies. The first rounding of testing orders are expected by the end of 2021.

SIGNIFICANT NEW USE RULE (SNUR)

Established under the auspices of the TSCA, the EPA’s significant new use rule (SNUR) grants the agency the authority to approve or reject new uses for potentially hazardous chemicals, including PFAS. LVEs (Low-Volume Exemptions) may be issued for PFAS that are imported or manufactured in low-enough quantities. However, the 2021-2024 Strategic Plan calls for the agency to revisit past LVE decisions and encourage companies to voluntarily withdraw from previously granted exemptions.

INTEGRATED RISK INFORMATION SYSTEM (IRIS)

The IRIS program is designed to identify and characterize the health and environmental hazards of chemicals. These toxicity assessments inform the EPA’s rulemaking and help establish the agency’s priorities. In 2022, the EPA plans to finalize its toxicity assessment for PFBA and issue draft assessments for PFHxS, PFHxA, PFNA, and PFDA. Once these assessments are released, states may also have additional scientific grounds on which to base regulatory actions for these five PFAS.

TOXIC RELEASE INVENTORY (TRI)

Established under the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA; 1986), the EPA’s TRI program is a publicly accessible database containing information regarding chemical releases and pollution prevention actions. When PFAS is detected, TRI helps municipalities, Tribal leaders, and state officials to better identify the source of the pollution and initiate remedial action. Initially, 172 PFAS were added to TRI reporting requirements for reporting year (RY) 2020. Another 3 were added for RY 2021, bringing the total to 175. While TRI program compliance does not typically call for PFAS testing services, Pace® frequently answers questions from our industrial customers about the PFAS included in the program.

REQUEST A STATE REGULATORY BRIEFING

Many states follow the EPA’s lead, but there are often nuances of which you need to be aware. Other states are out ahead of the EPA in the fight against PFAS contamination. Pace® works with clients across the country, and our PFAS experts would be happy to walk through regulatory compliance requirements in your state.

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD)

The DOD typically follows the EPA’s lead when it comes to PFAS detection, remediation, and clean up, following the programs listed above as applicable. But that doesn’t mean the department isn’t taking an active role. In fact, the DOD has developed PFAS test methods (AFFF01) and quality control standards for PFAS labs (DOD QSM). They’ve also partnered with the EPA in the development of Test Method 1633, a PFAS test method capable of analyzing up to 40 PFAS in non-potable waters and many solid matrices, such as soil, sediment, and biota. In addition, millions of dollars are allocated to the DOD by Congress under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund the department’s research into PFAS remediation, destruction, and disposal.

REASONS TO CHOOSE PACE®

Pace Analytical PFAS Experienced Icon

EXPERIENCED

Pace® has been an industry leader in persistent organic pollutant testing for over three decades.
Pace Analytical PFAS Certified icon

CERTIFIED

We’re certified/accredited by NELAC, ISO, DOD, DOE, and in every state with a PFAS lab certification program.

Pace Analytical PFAS Reliable Icon

RELIABLE

For emergencies, our Rapid Response Team can provide defensible results in as little as 24 hours.

Committed

COMMITTED

We are committed to helping our customers advance their important work through building strong relationships, delivering upon expectations, and providing exceptional customer service.

Pace Analytical PFAS Advanced Icon

ADVANCED

We can test for PFAS in both solid and aqueous matrices, including potable and non-potable waters, soils, and biota.

Pace Analytical PFAS Innovative icon

INNOVATIVE

We’re on the leading edge of science, working with EPA, DOD, ASTM, and others to develop new methods for analyzing PFAS.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP