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February 15, 2019

EPA Issues Action Plan for Emerging Contaminants

On February 14, 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a nationwide PFAS action plan to address growing concern over per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These substances and others referred to as “PFAS” are or were commonly used in a variety of products, including water-repellent clothing, furniture, adhesives, non-stick surfaces, and insulation for electrical wires, due to their resistance to heat oil, stains, grease, and water. These same characteristics allow PFAS to persist for long periods of time in the environment, particularly in water.

EPA’s action plan calls for, among other things, a process for setting maximum contaminant level standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), possibly adding PFAS to EPA’s toxics release inventory and prohibiting the use of certain PFAS chemicals, establishing nationwide drinking water monitoring, and increasing research for detecting and measuring the presence of PFAS and their potential toxicity. In New York State, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has already conducted surveys of businesses and other facilities that use or may have used PFAS and has required groundwater testing at certain cleanup sites throughout the state.

The action plan can be found on EPA’s website.

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