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Groundwater and PFAS


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House committee holds hearing on PFAS contamination and need for corporate accountability

Jul 25, 2019, 12:51 PM by Pat Levak
The hearing included state officials, scientists, and affected individuals.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on July 24 to examine the history of the science behind the health risks associated with PFAS, and what corporations knew and when they knew it.

In the hearing, “The Devil They Knew — PFAS Contamination and the Need for Corporate Accountability,” state officials, scientists, and affected individuals fielded a range of questions from the subcommittee. No representation from a corporation with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their products was present at the hearing other than Glen Evers, president of IS2 Consulting and a former research scientist at DuPont.

However, chairman Harley Rouda (D-California) submitted the Environmental Working Group’s statement that includes information on DuPont and 3M Co.’s knowledge of PFAS. Rouda said he will make sure these two companies provide answers to the public.

Rouda also referenced a bill he introduced on May 8, H.R. 2570: PFAS User Fee Act of 2019. The bill would establish fees for the manufacture of PFAS. The amount of the fees would total $2 billion each year. A PFAS Treatment Trust Fund would be created from the fees collected to pay for ongoing water treatment costs associated with contamination from PFAS and other purposes.

Officials from Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Jersey shared what their respective states are doing to address PFAS. Representing Michigan was Steve Sliver, PFAS executive lead for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, who took part in Water Well Journal®’s PFAS Roundtable in its April issue.

Unsure of when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will set maximum contaminant levels for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), Sliver shared that Michigan is looking at regulating seven PFAS chemicals. The state has begun its rulemaking process and is expected to have draft rules established in October.

Financial assistance needed from the federal government for small community water systems to address PFAS was stressed by Catherine McCabe, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. She said it is especially needed in northeastern states that use state revolving funds to treat lead.

McCabe also stated a need for the federal government to apply the Toxic Substances Control Act to direct chemical companies to complete research and studies on the manufacturing of its chemicals before they’re allowed into the marketplace.

Regarding healthcare, Jamie DeWitt, Ph.D., of the Pharmacology and Toxicology Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, shared the need to educate physicians about PFAS and how they might affect their patients. Part of the challenge, DeWitt said, was there are currently no clinical labs that can routinely do a blood test for PFAS.

Click here to watch the hearing.

NGWA guidance document

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NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice, a guidance document on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Created by 36 NGWA volunteers who spent 1100 hours on it over 12 months, it is a comprehensive eight-part piece exploring the potentially hazardous, and widely discussed, compounds in groundwater and soil. NGWA published the document to identify the known science and knowledge related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds. It summarizes the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures.

NGWA PFAS event

PFAS in Groundwater Workshop: The Professional’s Challenge
December 5, 2019

NGWA PFAS expert

seth-kelloggSeth Kellogg, PG, a senior geologist at Geosyntec Consultants,​ was elected to the board of the Scientist and Engineers Section of NGWA in 2016. She has 25 years of experience in evaluating complex contaminant hydrogeology and groundwater/surface water interactions, including large groundwater and sediment sites in New York and New Jersey. As PFAS have emerged as environmental concerns, Kellogg has been working with NGWA to advance the industry’s understanding and implementation of best practices. She has presented and published on the technical and regulatory challenges of PFAS contamination, including coauthoring NGWA’s Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice (NGWA Press 2017). In May 2018, Kellogg was recommended by members of the NGWA Board of Directors to represent the Association at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Leadership Summit on PFAS. Kellogg’s leadership on PFAS has also included several presentations educating industry professionals on the fragmented PFAS regulatory framework, PFAS characterization challenges, and the complexities of PFAS fate and transport. She also served as a program adviser and facilitator for NGWA’s PFAS in Groundwater Workshop that was held in August 2018.