EPA PFAS Regulatory Determination (June 11, 2020)

In March 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published preliminary regulatory determinations to begin the process to propose and promulgate drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS. The public comment period on the preliminary regulatory determinations closed yesterday, June 10, 2020.  Approximately sixty individuals and organizations submitted public comments.

EPA is working on a proposed rule that would designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) also known as Superfund.   In addition there have been a number of efforts in Congress regarding legislation to address PFOA and PFOS.

Over the last couple of days there have been articles posted on this PFAS activity.  See the examples below.

Bloomberg Law:


E & E News:


Wisconsin Public Radio:



Background on CCL4 and Preliminary Regulatory Determinations:  Under the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) the EPA is required to make regulatory determinations every five years on at least five unregulated contaminants.    A regulatory determination is a decision whether or not EPA will begin the process to propose and promulgate a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation.  The unregulated contaminants that EPA reviews are taken from the Contaminant Candidate Lists (CCL) that EPA is required to publish every five years.  The fourth CCL (CCL4) was published in November 2016.  On March 10, 2020 EPA published for a 60-day public comment period a preliminary regulatory determination for contaminants on the CCL4.  EPA proposed the following regulatory decisions:

  1. EPA will develop regulations for: perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
  2. EPA will not regulate the following: 1,1- dichloroethane, acetochlor, methyl bromide (bromomethane), metolachlor, nitrobenzene, and RDX.

The 60-day public comment period was scheduled to end May 11, 2020.  On May 1, 2020 EPA published a 30-day extension of the public comment period, which closed yesterday, June 10, 2020.

Next Steps.  EPA will review the public comments and publish a final regulatory determination in the Federal Register.  Under the SDWA, after EPA publishes a final decision to regulate a contaminant the Agency has 24 months to propose the regulation for public comment and 18 months after that to publish the final regulation.