On June 15, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an announcement on Drinking Water Health Advisories for per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS). This announcement included four common PFAS compounds - perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), hexafluoropropylene oxide (HPFO) dimer acid and ammonium salt (together known as GenX chemicals), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and related compound potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (known as PFBS).
The EPA researched and collected evidence of the effects of PFOA and PFOS on human health, releasing their Health Advisories announcement to the public in 2016. In six years, the technology and science have significantly evolved and the EPA is replacing the 2016 advisory with the new Health Advisories "based on new studies and draft toxicity values from EPA’s 2021 draft PFOA and PFOS health effects documents. Fulfilling EPA’s commitment in its October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap, EPA has issued final lifetime HAs for GenX chemicals and PFBS." - source EPA Technical Factsheet
Image Source: EPA, Technical Fact Sheet: Drinking Water Health Advisories for Four PFAS (PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, and PFBS) Technical Fact Sheet: Drinking Water Health Advisories for Four PFAS (PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, and PFBS) - June 2022 (epa.gov)
Public health is the number one concern of the EPA. After extensive research on PFAS chemicals, it is evident that consuming PFAS through water has adverse effects on an individual's health. The new Health Advisory Limits (HALs) reflect limits where adverse health effects are not likely to occur.
"Wastewater professionals have been overwhelmed with PFAS news from the federal government and state officials for over a year. This announcement does not come as a surprise to states, individual cities, wastewater treatment operators or engineers - but the extreme lower limits may catch decision makers off-guard," commented Paul Nygaard - President of the ICS Group. "The EPA is going to set the precedent for states to guarantee all drinking water is safe for consumption. Each state will likely play a role in implementing the guidelines from the EPA."
It will be hard to determine when each state is going to have their final guidelines, testing, monitoring, and implementation strategies solidified for PFAS contamination. Paul Nygaard commented "The difficult part in determining what is safe and what is not regarding PFAS has finally been spelled out by the EPA. Now, we need to see action by the individual states to produce plans on how to address the contamination. Cities, towns, villages, and sanitary districts will look to their local authority to provide guidance on how to move forward."
Cleaning up "forever chemicals" will come at a cost to communities, especially smaller and disadvantaged communities. The EPA released another announcement on June 15, 2022, detailing the Emerging Contaminants (EC) in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant (SDC). According to the website - "As part of a government-wide effort to confront PFAS pollution, EPA is inviting states and territories to apply for $1 billion – the first of $5 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding – to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water, specifically in small or disadvantaged communities." The funds will be provided to help these communities with "scoping, planning, testing and remediating emerging contaminants found in drinking and source water."
The ICS Group is committed to helping communities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota address PFAS contamination. "The more we learn about PFAS, the more urgent the concern is to test, mitigate, and install effective technologies to remove the forever chemicals from our drinking water. We encourage communities to reach out to our team to determine your needs and create a PFAS Action Plan." The ICS Group partners with BioLargo to offer bench testing, technology pilots and full technology installations to remove PFAS from drinking water. Learn more about the BioLargo Aqueous Electrostatic Concentrator (PFAS removal) technology by visiting their website - PFAS Treatment - BioLargo Engineering or watch the below video which explains the PFAS removal technology.
To apply for funding, please visit the EPA's website - Emerging Contaminants (EC) in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant (SDC) | US EPA
To read the full press release from the EPA - EPA Announces New Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS Chemicals, $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding to Strengthen Health Protections | US EPA
To read the complete PFAS technical fact sheet from the EPA - Technical Fact Sheet: Drinking Water Health Advisories for Four PFAS (PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, and PFBS) - June 2022 (epa.gov)