EPA's PFAS Action Plan

In February 2019, EPA released the PFAS Action Plan which outlines steps the agency is taking to address PFAS and to protect public health. The Action Plan describes the EPA’s approach to identifying and understanding PFAS, approaches to addressing current PFAS contamination, preventing future contamination, and effectively communicating with the public about PFAS. The Action Plan describes the broad actions the EPA has underway to address challenges with PFAS in the environment and identifies more short-term and long-term actions that are currently being implemented to understand and address PFAS. Short-term actions are generally taking place or expected to be completed within two years.

The Action Plan also sets out long-term regulatory and research approaches the EPA will pursue to reduce exposures and to understand the potential human health and environmental risks associated with PFAS. Actions classified as long-term, such as multi-step research initiatives or regulatory actions, are generally expected to take more than two years. Some long-term actions may result in intermediate steps and products that can help to reduce PFAS exposures and protect public health. Ecological risks are of great concern to many stakeholders due to the widespread distribution and persistence of PFAS in the environment and the wide variety of PFAS chemicals for which environmental fate and transport  is currently uncharacterized. While this Action Plan focuses mainly on human health, characterizing potential ecological impacts and risks are important areas of work for the EPA.

More information on the EPA PFAS Action Plan can be found HERE. Below is a table outlining EPA’s planned actions and the associated timeline:

Stakeholder Concern
or Challenge

EPA Action(s)

Purpose

Anticipated
Timeframe

EPA Priority Actions

Regulatory uncertainty (e.g., MCL) for PFAS in
drinking water

Propose a national drinking water regulatory determination for PFOA and PFOS, highlighting key information gathered by the Agency and our partners to date and additional data needs.

Provide the opportunity for the
public to comment on and contribute to the information the EPA may consider related to the regulation of PFAS in drinking water.

2019

Hold responsible
parties accountable
for PFAS releases into
the environment

The EPA has initiated the regulatory development process for listing PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous
substances.

Listing PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA hazardous substances would provide additional authority to address PFOA
and PFOS, including the ability to require responsible parties to carry out and/or pay for response actions.

Ongoing
Started 2018

Provide guidance for groundwater cleanup actions at contaminated sites

Develop interim cleanup recommendations to address groundwater contaminated with PFOA and PFOS.

Recommendations will provide a starting point for making site-specific cleanup decisions. These recommendations may be considered for federal facility and private-party cleanup under CERCLA, RCRA corrective action programs, and state cleanup programs, where appropriate.

Anticipated 2019

Increase
understanding about
potential human
health impacts of
additional PFAS

Finalize draft toxicity assessments for GenX chemicals and PFBS; develop additional PFAS toxicity values for PFBA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFDA.

Finalized toxicity assessments can be combined with specific exposure information by government and private entities to help characterize potential public health risks associated with exposure to these chemicals.

Final toxicity
assessments for PFBS and GenX chemicals in
2019; Draft toxicity
assessments for five additional PFAS in 2020

Expand knowledge
about whether new
PFAS chemicals
entering commerce
are safe

Use new statutory requirements added by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to review new PFAS and issue supplemental proposed Significant New Use Rules (SNUR on PFAS).

New chemical reviews under TSCA ensure that unreasonable risks are addressed prior to commercialization. The issuance of SNURs for existing PFAS chemicals prohibits new uses for these chemicals until the EPA determines whether the significant new use presents an unreasonable risk and takes appropriate actions as required by TSCA to address any unreasonable risk.

Ongoing
Started in 2016

Short-Term Actions

Understanding and Addressing PFAS Toxicity and Occurrence

Establish and curate
a clearinghouse of
chemical information
for PFAS

The EPA’s CompTox Chemistry
Dashboard has been updated to include several curated lists of PFAS chemicals with links to known chemical, physical, and other properties.

Provide simple access to a comprehensive array of up-to-date information for PFAS of interest.

Ongoing

Expand analytical
methods to
accurately test for
additional PFAS in
drinking water

Expand the current drinking water Method 537 to include GenX chemicals and additional PFAS; develop a new drinking water method for additional short-chain PFAS not measured by Method 537.

Improved and/or additional methods would help stakeholders and the EPA accurately test, analyze, and quantify a broader suite of PFAS in their drinking water, including GenX
chemicals and other short-chain PFAS.

Method 537.1
completed
November 2018;
additional
methods in 2019

Test for PFAS and
PFAS precursors in
media other than
drinking water

Develop and validate methods for other water matrices (wastewater, surface waters, groundwater), solids (soil, sediment, biosolids, fish tissue), and air (ambient, stack emission, off-gases).

Provide additional methods for stakeholders and the EPA to identify the presence of PFAS in concentrations of concern for media other than drinking water.

2019 – 2021

Coordination across
federal agencies with common interests in PFAS toxicity

Participate in a cross-federal-agency working group on PFAS information gathering and sharing.

Better leverage federal investments and reduce redundancies. Provide states, tribes, and communities with consistent cross-federal information for making decisions.

2019

Identifying and Addressing PFAS Exposures

Additional robust
treatment and
remediation
technologies for PFAS
in the environment

Conduct additional research to
identify performance and costs associated with treatment and
remediation approaches to address PFAS in the environment, along with any potential unintended consequences associated with specific technologies.

Identify new/additional treatment
and remediation options that can be
used to address PFAS contamination.

2019

Information about
drinking water
treatment effectiveness and
costs for different
PFAS

Incorporate the latest research
results for additional PFAS into
the EPA’s online drinking water
treatability database.

Support stakeholders in selecting the
most effective drinking water
treatment approaches to address
concerns with PFAS in the
environment.

Ongoing

Hold responsible
parties accountable
for PFAS releases into
the environment

Employ an enforcement strategy that relies first on state and local authorities and utilizes federal authorities as appropriate where, for
example, state and local authorities are not available or responsible parties do not address PFAS voluntarily.

Support communities that have PFAS
releases by using federal
enforcement authorities, where
relevant and appropriate.

Ongoing

Understand sources
and concentrations
of PFAS in the
environment

Partner with ECOS to build an interactive map to provide users with easy access to publicly available data on potential PFAS sources and occurrence.

Enable states, tribes, and communities to use the best available data to guide PFAS
management decisions.

2019

Risk Communication and Engagement

Coordinated
messaging on PFAS
across the federal
government

Participate in and coordinate with an interagency PFAS risk communication workgroup to develop consistent communication materials that can be used across the federal government and are informed by the best available science.

Ensure coordinated messaging from the federal government is provided to the states, tribes, and local communities.

Ongoing
Start 2019

Communication
materials that can be
used to inform the
public of concerns
related to PFAS

Work with other federal agencies, states, and tribes to develop a risk communication toolbox that includes materials and messaging for federal, state, tribal, and local partners to use with the public.

Provide states, tribes, local officials, and utilities with communication tools that convey clear and consistent messages to the public.

2019

Long-Term Actions

Increase knowledge
about PFAS releases

Explore data availability for listing PFAS chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory (Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community
Right-to-Know Act).

Make information about PFAS releases reported by industrial and federal facilities available. This information may be helpful to inform decision-making by communities, government agencies, companies and others

Start 2019

Reduce PFAS releases into ambient waters and sources of drinking water

Determine if available data and research support the development of Clean Water Act Section 304(a) ambient water quality criteria for
human health for PFAS.

When adopted by states and tribes as water quality standards, criteria can be used to set permit limits on discharges to a waterbody and to determine if a waterbody requires cleanup to protect human health and aquatic life.

2021

Hold responsible
parties accountable
for PFAS releases into
the environment

Examine available information and beginning in 2019 seek additional information from industry to explore
identification of industrial sources that may warrant potential regulation through national ELGs to be described
in preliminary ELG plan 14 (2019).

ELGs require that a technology based, minimum level of control be applied to any NPDES permit for direct discharge to waters or be directly applicable for indirect dischargers.

Start 2019

Characterize
potential health
impacts from a
broader set of PFAS

Generate PFAS toxicology data through new approaches such as high throughput screening, computational toxicology tools, and chemical informatics for chemical prioritization,
screening, and risk assessment.

Inform a more complete understanding of PFAS toxicity for the large set of PFAS chemicals without conventional toxicity data and allow prioritization of actions to potentially address groups of PFAS.

Ongoing

Develop more
drinking water
occurrence data for a
broader group of
PFAS

The EPA will propose nationwide drinking water monitoring for PFAS under the next UCMR monitoring cycle
utilizing newer methods available to detect more PFAS chemicals and at lower minimum reporting levels (MRLs) than previously possible in earlier monitoring

Monitoring results will improve understanding of the frequency and concentration of PFAS occurrence in finished U.S. drinking water.

Anticipated 2020

Develop a PFAS data
inventory and best
practices for
contributing data

Develop a data standards best
practice that allows sharing of
soil, air, water, fish tissue, and
other PFAS monitoring data.

Provide a way to share PFAS testing
results for media other than drinking
water that facilitates integration and
easy access and use of PFAS data.

Start 2019

Access ecological risk
information to
protect ecosystems

Identify sensitive and susceptible species; synthesize information on
bioaccumulation in organisms and food chains; where appropriate develop
benchmarks and thresholds for ecological toxicity.

Enable action to protect aquatic ecosystems; establish cleanup levels for contaminated sites; protect recreational and cultural values, such
as hunting and fishing.

2022

Understand potential
for atmospheric
transport of PFAS

Incorporate PFAS information into the EPA atmospheric models to understand the potential for atmospheric fate and transport of PFAS.

Enable risk managers to understand the full range of potential PFAS exposure pathways so that they can prioritize appropriate action.

2022

This Page Last Updated: May 6, 2022 at 12:37 PM