PFAS News Update: EPA Announces New Permitting Direction, Testing Method, and Aquatic Life Protection Levels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a memo last week providing recommended National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) aimed to limit PFAS dischargers and obtain additional monitoring data. The 28 April 2022 EPA memo provides recommended permit conditions for industrial facilities, publicly owned treatment works (POTWs), and stormwater dischargers and includes recommendations for monitoring procedures and Best Management Practices (BMPs). The planned changes to NPDES permits will impact municipalities that operate publicly owned treatment works (POTWs), water suppliers, and industrial facilities, likely within the next 5 years, as the new requirements are implemented. If PFAS are found above the permitted levels, then facilities will be obligated to reduce PFAS through treatment or  forensic tracing and control. Forensic tracing is used to identify likely upstream dischargers for source control. The EPA will issue guidance to state permitting authorities to address PFAS in NPDES permits in a future action.

The EPA also announced 1) proposed ambient water quality (aquatic life) criteria for PFOA and PFOS, and 2) a new forthcoming EPA analytical method, EPA Draft Method 1621, that will broadly screen for the presence of PFAS in water by measuring total carbon-fluorine bonds.

More information is available in the EPA news release.