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ECOS STEP Meeting This Week Focuses on PFAS

On July 29-30, the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) held its virtual 2020 State Environmental Protection (STEP) Meeting entitled, “Partnering on PFAS.” Participants included representatives from state and federal governmental agencies, business and industry, and nonprofits and associations (including ASDWA). The meeting started with a keynote speech and included multiple sessions with short presentations and discussions over the course of two afternoons.

The keynote speech was delivered by Robert Bilott, the attorney and author who exposed the PFAS contamination by DuPont in Parkersburg, West Virginia and inspired the 2019 Dark Waters movie. Mr. Bilott shared the history and timeline of his investigation of and litigation against DuPont for their creation of PFAS and subsequent actions and impacts to human health and the environment. He also talked with meeting participants about the use of litigation to drive corporate responsibility and the need for government actions to conduct comprehensive assessments and ensure remediation of PFAS contamination, so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that previously led to the contamination from PFOA and PFOS.

The meeting session topics on the first day explored how regulators and stakeholders are coordinating to:

  • Develop overarching state PFAS efforts and actions.
  • Detect and regulate PFAS in different media including drinking water, surface water, groundwater, soil, air, fish tissue, animals, and food.
  • Manage PFAS in wastewater, waste, landfill leachate, biosolids, and agricultural uses for sludge.
  • Consider the best options for treating, removing, disposing, and incinerating PFAS.

On the second day of the meeting, federal agency representatives shared information about their efforts including the:

  • EPA PFAS Action Plan updates on developing regulations, conducting toxicity assessments, developing analytical methods, conducting research, and working with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to undertake a review federal agency PFAS research.
  • CDC Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) health effects investigations and assessment of drinking water exposure with multiple communities in eight states.
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS) research on human health and exposure.
  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA) testing for PFAS in foods.
  • Department of Defense (DoD) PFAS Task Force research to find alternatives for AFFF (fire-fighting foam) and investigate and mitigate PFAS drinking water impacts near military sites.

Other topics included federal and state restrictions on the use of PFAS in products and in fire-fighting foam; finding alternatives for AFFF and conducting state take-back programs; regulating and addressing PFAS chemicals as a class; controlling and addressing industrial discharges; and continuing these discussions and coordination efforts into the future. For more information, view the ECOS STEP Meeting information here.