EPA releases draft groundwater clean-up guidelines

April 26, 2019

As a part of its PFAS Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released draft groundwater clean-up guidelines on April 25 for two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS — PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate).

The EPA set a standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for groundwater cleanup, placing it in line with its health advisory level, also set at 70 ppt. The guideline applies in places where contaminated groundwater is a current or potential source of drinking water.

Setting a standard of 70 ppt seemed to split the difference between setting a higher standard, which was the preference of Department of Defense (DoD) and a more stringent standard, in line with the recent health studies released on the two chemicals.

The draft guidelines also suggest that when a level of PFAS contamination at 40 ppt is detected, an investigation should be opened to determine the extent of the contamination and identify responsible parties.

The guidelines were originally set to be released in the fall of 2018, but were stalled at the White House after concerns from DoD officials over the stringency of the guidelines was expressed.

The draft guidelines are open for public comment for 45 days. NGWA is going to convene its PFAS Task Group to prepare a response.