In February of this year, the EPA preliminarily determined that setting a legally enforceable National Primary Drinking Water Regulation is appropriate for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Currently, the EPA has only established a non-enforceable health advisory of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS based on their scientific belief that adverse effects are not expected to occur over a lifetime of exposure at or below this level. PFOA and PFOS are two of the most widely studied of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been nicknamed “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and the human body.
A public comment period on the EPA’s preliminary determination closed on June 10, 2020, drawing numerous responses from a variety of individuals and organizations. The EPA will consider these public comments in the development of its final regulatory determinations for PFOS and PFOA. Represented within the comments are PFAS manufacturers, state government agencies, independent environmental groups, trade organizations, the legal field, and medical field, amongst others.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Massachusetts DEP) commented that it “commends and supports the EPA for making positive preliminary regulatory determinations for PFOA and PFOS.” The Massachusetts DEP, however, recommended that the EPA thoroughly consider states PFAS standards and guidelines that are significantly lower than the EPA’s Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion and include additional PFAS compounds. These comments, amongst others from the Massachusetts DEP, directly stem from the Massachusetts DEP’s push to regulate and set a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for six PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS, at 20 ppt, significantly lower than the EPA’s 70 ppt advisory level.
In addition, 3M commented that they “support establishing a science-based federal standard for PFOA and PFOS under the SDWA” but also expressed concern that the EPA’s Regulatory Determinations were based on “incomplete and, in some instances, unreliable data.” 3M further commented that the EPA must undertake more significant steps to evaluate the body of data regarding the substances, specifically in relation to the EPA’s conclusions regarding potential human health effects of PFOA and PFOS. According to the EPA, there are associations between PFOA exposure and high cholesterol, increased liver enzymes, decreased vaccination response, thyroid disorders, pregnancy-induced hypertension an preeclampsia, and testicular and kidney cancer. In addition, the EPA believes there are associations with PFOS exposure and high serum cholesterol, decreases in female fertility, and decreases in birth weights of newborns and other measures of postnatal growth.
As the EPA pushes to set National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, it is essential to follow along as a legally enforceable standard will have big implications for individuals and organizations that have associations with PFOA and PFOS.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, and administrative developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.