Many states, tribes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Congress continue to grapple with how best to deal with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known colloquially as “forever chemicals.” This week the Environmental Council of States, an association representing state environmental secretaries, published a very helpful compilation of state practices and considerations found here, ECOS PFAS report on state standards 2020.
In recent years, federal, state, and international authorities have established various health-based regulatory values and evaluation criteria for a number of specific per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in response to growing concerns with contamination. At this time, the U.S. has no federally enforceable PFAS standards, leaving individual states to navigate various avenues for addressing PFAS contamination. Some states have established legally enforceable values for certain PFAS in drinking water, groundwater, surface water, soil, or other environmental media (e.g., drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels [MCLs]). Other states and regulatory agencies have opted for non-enforceable values such as guidance levels, screening numbers, or advisories that may apply to PFAS compounds for which promulgated standards do not exist.
The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) in 2019 compiled information on state PFAS standards, advisories, and guidance values (hereinafter referred to as “guidelines”1). Sharing data and regulatory approaches will help federal, state, and international authorities avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts, as well as understand and communicate about differences in guidelines. This paper outlines ECOS’ findings on state efforts and considerations for future regulatory activities on PFAS.