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Multiple PFAS Happenings this Week

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pfasThis week’s new items on Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) featured two events held in Washington, DC – the ASTHO Summit and Senate Hearing, along with a new GAO statement on firefighting foam in drinking water and UCS fact sheet on PFAS contamination at military bases.

ASTHO Policy Summit Features PFAS Session

ASTHO logoOn September 25th, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Policy Summit. During the Summit, ASDWA staff attended the roundtable session on PFAS, which included presentations from Dr. Patrick Breysse with CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and Dr. Peter Grevatt with EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. While no new information regarding PFAS was shared, EPA did highlight their ongoing efforts to manage PFAS compounds. EPA continues to explore the listing of PFOA and PFAS as hazardous substances, which would allow EPA to order cleanups and cover the cost of Agency expenses by making the polluter pay. EPA also mentioned that they are very close to finishing the toxicity values for GenX and PFBS and are continuing developing groundwater cleanup goals for contaminated sites. For more information about the Summit, visit the ASTHO website.

Senate HSGAC PFAS Hearing Held this Week

downloadOn September 26th, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management held a hearing on “The Federal Role in the Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis.” During the hearing, EPA, represented by Dr. Peter Grevatt, supported their current health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS at 70 ppt. EPA asserted that their level is based on the most recent best available science and there is no plan to update these health advisory levels. Some highlights from the hearing included:

  • Peter Grevatt with EPA’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water, in response to several questions, reiterated the Agency’s commitments made at the May Leadership Summit to address PFAS compounds and noted that EPA is examining various affordable treatment technologies for point-of-use devices for private wells. However, he said that it could take years to both complete a drinking water regulatory determination process for PFOA and PFOS and finalize the listing of PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under statutory authority.
  • Linda Birnbaum with the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), when asked about developing human health risk assessments, responded that the DHHS is currently conducting rapid studies on PFAS compounds beyond PFOA and PFOS.
  • Maureen Sullivan with the Department of Defense (DoD) emphasized their current and previous efforts to identify DoD locations where there is a PFOA and PFOS release, test for contamination above the EPA health advisory, and provide treatment measures.

For more information, to watch a recording of the hearing, and to read the written testimony of witnesses, visit the Committee website.

New GAO Drinking Water Report Submitted as Testimony for Senate PFAS Hearing

gao-logo1Related to the September 26th Senate Hearing above, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) released a statement (report) entitled, “Drinking Water: Status of DOD Efforts to Address Drinking Water Contaminants Used in Firefighting Foam,” as the testimony of Brian LePore with GAO for the Senate HGAC Subcommittee PFAS Hearing. This GAO report provides information on actions the US Department of Defense (DoD) has taken to address elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water at or near military installations and to address concerns with firefighting foam. The statement is largely based on the study findings from a similar October 2017 GAO Report that primarily recommended reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations and improved communication and additional training for personnel, and includes a map of where these actions have been taken. View this week’s GAO Hearing statement here.

UCS Releases New PFAS Military Base Contamination Fact Sheet

On SeptemUCS logober 25th, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a fact sheet on PFAS contamination at military bases entitled, “A Toxic Threat: Government Must Act Now on PFAS Contamination at Military Bases.” The fact sheet includes information and tables demonstrating the negative health effects associated with exposure to PFAS compounds; comparing the EPA health advisory levels (HALs) for PFOA and PFOS to ATSDR’s minimum risk levels (MRLs) – though it does not explain how the levels were compared and how they are different (e.g., the HALs are for drinking water and the MRLs are for total exposure screening values); and showing high levels of PFAS at military bases across the US.

In conclusion, the fact sheet recommends that “A national-scale government effort is urgently needed to control the use and disposal of PFAS and to clean up existing PFAS contamination,” with a list of some specific actions including banning PFAS; setting enforceable drinking water standards for total PFAS; mandating reporting of PFAS releases; investigating drinking water contamination; adding the entire class of PFAS to the EPA’s toxic pollutant list and hazardous substance list; providing support to states to clean and filter contaminated water sources, including standardized test methods for a broad range of legacy and replacement PFAS; and more. To view the fact sheet and other resources such as an interactive map of military base PFAS contamination, visit the UCS website.