Pennsylvania PFAS Drinking Water Standards Up For Comment
Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) opened to public comment its proposed regulations for PFOA and PFOS drinking water standards. The Pennsylvania PFAS drinking water standards would be on the more aggressive side of the spectrum of state level drinking water standards. If adopted, the standards will have significant impacts on companies in Pennsylvania. It is critical for Pennsylvania companies anywhere in the manufacturing or supply chain to immediately assess the impact of the proposed PFAS standards on corporate practices, and make decisions regarding continued use of PFAS in products, as opposed to substituting for other substances. At the same time, companies impacted by the PFAS proposals must be aware that the proposal poses risks to the companies involvement in PFAS litigation in both the short and long term.
Pennsylvania PFAS Drinking Water Standards
Pennsylvania recently announced that the state intends to adopt Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The proposed MCLs are 14 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 18ppt for PFOS. The proposal will not undergo a public comment period, which will close on April 27, 2022. In the interim, five virtual public hearings will be held, which are taking place each day this week.
Impact On Businesses
Pennsylvania’s proposals for PFOA and PFOS drinking water standards will open businesses up to enforcement action for legacy PFOA and PFOS pollution to drinking water sources. While both types of PFAS were phased out in the United States several years ago, Pennsylvania’s DEP would have the power if the 14ppt PFOA and 18ppt PFOS MCLs pass into effect to seek out past polluters and pursue those companies for cleanup costs.
It is of the utmost importance for businesses to evaluate their PFAS risk. Public health and environmental groups urge legislators to regulate these compounds. One major point of contention among members of various industries is whether to regulate PFAS as a class or as individual compounds. While each PFAS compound has a unique chemical makeup and impacts the environment and the human body in different ways, some groups argue PFAS should be regulated together as a class because they interact with each other in the body, thereby resulting in a collective impact. Other groups argue that the individual compounds are too diverse and that regulating them as a class would be over restrictive for some chemicals and not restrictive enough for others.
Companies should remain informed so they do not get caught off guard. States are increasingly passing PFAS product bills that differ in scope. For any manufacturers, especially those who sell goods interstate, it is important to understand how those various standards will impact them, whether PFAS is regulated as individual compounds or as a class. Conducting regular self-audits for possible exposure to PFAS risk and potential regulatory violations can result in long term savings for companies and should be commonplace in their own risk assessment.