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Groundwater and PFAS


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Roundtable provides update on progress being made to address PFAS

Aug 27, 2020, 10:37 AM by Pat Levak

A roundtable on the progress the nation is making to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) took place August 25 in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

It was hosted by North Carolina Representative Richard Hudson. Also attending was U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and several state officials from North Carolina.

Wheeler highlighted actions his agency is taking under the PFAS Action Plan and touched on the partnerships that have been formed since the PFAS Action Plan was announced.

“In August 2018, EPA hosted a public listening session right here in Fayetteville to hear from the community about what the agency could do to help address PFAS,” Wheeler said. “In the two years since, we issued the first-ever PFAS Action Plan and have brought major support to state, tribal, and local governments as they help us execute the plan. The partnership EPA has with North Carolina and other states is critical to overcoming PFAS-related challenges.”

Wheeler also announced the new Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge, which is a partnership between federal and states agencies seeking detailed plans for a nonincineration method to destroy PFAS in concentrated aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), a type of firefighting foam.

“Protecting our community and combatting PFAS chemicals like GenX have remained a top priority. I first invited the EPA to Fayetteville in 2018 so they could hear directly from our community on this issue,” Hudson said. “Today’s discussion continues that dialogue and builds on our progress, including two amendments I recently secured that will directly help our fight against PFAS.”

NGWA has long been an industry leader in providing PFAS research, education, and resources to the public and scientific communities. In 2018, NGWA published Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice, which was one of the first PFAS guidance documents to be released.

It can be found at NGWA.org/PFAS, which is a complete resource center about the groundwater contaminant featuring an FAQs document, a top-10 facts sheet, a homeowner checklist, and more.

NGWA’s newest document on PFAS, PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know, is a fact sheet written in an accessible and easy-to-understand way by members of NGWA’s PFAS Task Force. It focuses on everything private well owners should know about the impacts of PFAS on their wells and can be found on the NGWA website as well.

Earlier this summer, NGWA and eight other water associations commented on the EPA drinking water regulatory determination for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), as well as other PFAS compounds, while also urging timely and comprehensive action.

“NGWA has long been advocating for the EPA to take further action to fight PFAS contamination,” NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC, said. “While there is definitely more work to do, we applaud these efforts put forward by the EPA as they indicate a willingness to listen to the experts and start allocating more resources to eradicating PFAS across the country.”

PFAS risk communication

pfas-contractorsAs a groundwater professional you may need to inform a customer of the potential for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in their well water and subsequent actions to mitigate exposure. NGWA recently published “PFAS Risk Communication for Contractors,” a two-page fact sheet to aid groundwater professionals in such communications. The document features common questions that may be asked and talking points that may be of assistance.

The document was crafted by the following volunteers and NGWA staff:

  • Bill Alley, Ph.D., NGWA
  • Melissa Harclerode, Ph.D., ENV, SP, CDM Smith Inc.
  • Shalene Thomas, VP, Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solution
  • Andy Horn, PG, Westwater Hydrology LLC
  • Dave Schulenberg, NGWA

PFAS and private wells

pfas-well-ownersNGWA recently published “PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know,” a two-page fact sheet that groundwater professionals can distribute to customers and others in their community concerned about PFAS. Written in easy-to-understand language by groundwater professionals, it explains what PFAS are, how to test wells for PFAS, treatment options, and more.

The document was crafted by the following volunteers:

  • Jeff Hale, PG, Parsons Corp.
  • Karen Kinsella, Ph.D., GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc.
  • Jim LoCoco, CPG, Mount Sopris Instrument Co. Inc.
  • Richard Mest, Master Water Conditioning Corp.
  • Brandon Newman, ECT2.

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) in 2017. Created by 36 NGWA volunteers who spent 1100 hours on it over the course of 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 PFAS; it summarizes the fate, transport, remediation, and treatment of PFAS, as well as current technologies, methods, and field procedures.

NGWA PFAS expert

seth-kelloggSeth Kellogg, PG, a senior geologist at Geosyntec Consultants,​ was elected to the board of the Scientists and Engineers Section of NGWA in 2016, and the national board in 2019. She has more than 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.