EPA recommends new "near zero" levels of PFAS: what CRE needs to know

06/17/2022

On June 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released revised drinking water health advisories for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS chemicals: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

While still non-enforceable, these updated advisories may be reflected in the National Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which the EPA is developing and expects to propose in Fall of 2022.

 

The Specifics
In these interim advisories, the EPA recommends significantly lower safe limits than the previously adopted EPA guidance (0.004 part per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 0.002 ppt for PFOS, versus the 2016 guidance value of 70 ppt), and in many cases, lower than the regulatory standards currently established in several states.

The agency acknowledges these new advisory levels consider lifetime exposure, and effectively reduce safe PFAS levels in water to near zero and below the EPA's current ability to detect them.

Additionally, final advisory levels are also issued for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and its potassium salt (PFBS) and for hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt (“GenX” chemicals). GenX chemicals are considered a replacement for PFOA, and PFBS is considered a replacement for PFOS.

 

The Impact on Commercial Real Estate
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan indicated his agency will "take aggressive action as part of a whole-of-government approach to prevent these chemicals from entering the environment.”​​​​​​​

While great news for communities currently suffering with the presence of these toxic chemicals in their drinking water, these interim advisories and subsequent, more stringent and enforceable regulations present a major challenge for CRE.

“The newly released EPA Health advisory levels for PFAS in drinking water present increased concerns for property owners, lenders and buyers of Commercial Real Estate," says Vinson Lesinski, EBI's National Manager of Site Investigation and Remediation. "State and local agency standards continue to evolve on differing tracks for drinking water, groundwater and soil. EBI stays on top of the latest federal, state and local guidelines related to PFAS across the US in order to help our clients navigate these complex and ever changing requirements.”

 

Next Steps and a Silver Lining
Along with the new health advisories, the EPA also announced on June 15, $1 billion in grant funding to help communities on the frontlines of PFAS contamination. The funds are to be used to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water through technical assistance, water quality testing, contractor training and treatment installation.

States and territories interested in grant funding must submit a letter of intent by August 15, 2022.

We will continue to monitor and report on state and federal updates related to PFAS. If you are concerned about PFAS or other contaminants on your property, contact EBI Consulting’s team of experts.

They can assess the site and provide a comprehensive analysis, helping you to determine necessary next steps, and guide you through this emerging regulatory landscape.

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