Since our January 14, 2022 article about GenX, “EPA to Require Chemical Companies to Test Toxicity of Products“, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to a list of risk-based values that will allow the organization to determine what, if any, remediation activities are needed. The addition of these five chemicals now brings the list to a total of six PFAS chemicals.
According to a May 2022 EPA news release, “EPA Adds Five PFAS Chemicals to List of Regional Screening and Removal Management Levels to Protect Human Health and the Environment“, the EPA is prioritizing the PFAS situation and intends to investigate risk from PFAS:
Screening and removal management levels are not cleanup standards. They are risk-based values that help EPA determine if further investigation or actions are needed to protect public health, such as sampling, assessing risks, and taking further action, which could include providing alternative drinking water. These mechanisms allow site teams to make better site decisions that will protect nearby communities.
The five PFAS additions include hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (HFPO-DA – sometimes referred to as GenX chemicals), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). EPA added the first PFAS substance, PFBS or perfluorobutanesulfonic acid, to the Regional Screening Level and Regional Removal Management Level lists in 2014 and updated it in 2021 when EPA released its updated toxicity assessment for PFBS.
The PFAS Chemicals Have Been Identified, Now What Comes Next?
It is important to note the PFAS situation is rapidly evolving, and the EPA reviews and updates its Regional Screening Levels and Regional Removal Management Levels twice a year in order to keep up with these changes. Additionally, as the science surrounding PFAS continues to evolve, the EPA may continue to update these values and their list of PFAS chemicals.
According to the May 2022 EPA Press Release, these Regional Screening Levels are used to determine if a site needs further testing:
Regional Screening Levels are used to identify contaminated media (i.e., air, tap water, and soil) at a site that may need further investigation. In general, if a contaminant concentration is below the screening level, no further action or investigation is needed. If the concentration is above the screening level, further investigation is generally needed to determine if some action is required. Regional Removal Management Levels are used to support EPA’s decisions to undertake a removal action under CERCLA, such as providing alternative drinking water, or remediation of contaminated media, if necessary.
Additionally, the EPA has reported they are moving as quickly as possible to update the health advisories currently placed on PFOA and PFOS to reflect new findings. The organization intends to develop a proposed “PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation” by fall 2022, with results being finalized by fall 2023.
We will continue to observe the GenX situation and deliver information on any new findings or resolutions. To learn more about the background and specifics of GenX, you can visit our law firm’s website pages:
- GenX Cancers Overview
- Summary of Information
- Timeline: GenX Contamination of the Cape Fear River
- Timeline: GenX Study Results
- GenX: Cancer Evaluation Form
Written by: Lauren Schwab, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A.