During week of July 10, 2023 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) released an advanced copy of the proposed Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) regulations (Advanced Copy Proposed DPR Regulations). SWRCB expects the formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to be published this week (July 21, 2023) for a 45 day public comment period. An advanced copy of the supporting document Initial Statement of Reasons has not yet been posted.
AB 574, signed into law in October 2017, required that the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopt uniform criteria for Direct Potable Reuse (DPR) by December 31, 2023. “Direct potable reuse is the planned introduction of recycled water either directly into a public water system or into a raw water supply immediately upstream of a water treatment plant.” The bill required that before adopting the criteria, the SWRCB submit the criteria to an Expert Panel for review.
In June 2021 the SWRCB and the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) convened an expert review panel as required by Section 13561.2 of the Water Code to review DDW’s proposed DPR criteria. The charge of the expert panel was to review the proposed criteria (regulations) for DPR and make a finding as to whether, in its expert opinion, the proposed criteria would adequately protect public health. The Expert Panel held public meetings on August 24 and 25, 2021, December 1, 2021; January 28, 2022; and February 28, 2022. In March 2022 the DPR Expert Panel released a draft memorandum presenting their review and recommendations of the draft DPR criteria. DDW staff prepared and posted a response to the Expert Panel’s draft memo. In July 2022 the SWRCB posted the Memorandum of Findings: Expert Panel Preliminary Findings and Recommendations on Draft DPR Criteria. “The Panel’s Preliminary….Finding is that the Early Draft of Anticipated Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse dated August 17, 2021, adequately protects public health.”
On August 8, 2023, from 10:30 am to 5 pm (ET) EPA will hold a public (virtual) meeting with the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC or Council). The stated purpose of the meeting is to “…update the Council on Safe Drinking Water Act programs and to consult with the NDWAC as required by the SDWA on a final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).” Link to copy of Federal Register notice (Fed Reg EPA to Brief NDWAC on Proposed PFAS MCLs ). Information on how to register to join the public meeting will be posted at the following location: https://www.epa.gov/ndwac
(Registration information has not yet been posted)
Background on Proposed MCLs for PFAS
On March 29, 2023 EPA published for public review and comment, proposed MCLs of 4 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 4 ppt for PFOS. EPA also proposed “….to use a Hazard Index (HI) approach to protecting public health from mixtures of PFHxS, HFPO-DA and its ammonium salt, PFNA, and PFBS because of their known and additive toxic effects and occurrence and likely co-occurrence in drinking water.”
Proposed Definition of Hazard Index: “Hazard index (HI) is the sum of component hazard quotients (HQs), which are calculated by dividing the measured regulated PFAS component contaminant concentration in water (e.g., expressed as ppt) by the associated Health-Based Water Concentration (e.g., HBWC expressed as ppt). For PFAS, a mixture HI greater than 1.0 is an exceedance of the MCL.” [emphasis added]
How To Calculate the Hazard Index: Steps to calculate the HI: “….a ratio called a hazard quotient (HQ) is calculated for each of the four PFAS (PFHxS, HFPO-DA and its ammonium salt (also known as GenX chemicals), PFNA, and PFBS) by dividing….the measured level of each of the four PFAS in drinking water, by a health reference value for that particular PFAS. For health reference values, in this proposal, EPA is using Health Based Water Concentration (HBWCs) as follows: 9.0 ppt for PFHxS, 10.0 ppt for HFPO-DA; 10.0 ppt for PFNA; and 2000 ppt for PFBS. The individual PFAS ratios (HQs) are then summed….to yield the HI. If the resulting HI is greater than one (1.0), then the exposure metric is greater than the health metric and potential risk is indicated
The public comment period for the proposed PFAS MCLs closed May 30, 2023.
The August issue of the journal “Environment International” posted an article by the US Geological Survey (USGS) titled
“Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in United States tapwater: Comparison of underserved private-well and public-supply exposures and associated health implications.” Link to copy of the article (USGS Article PFAS in Drinking Water ).
Text copied from the USGS website announcement:
“The study tested for 32 individual PFAS compounds using a method developed by the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory. The most frequently detected compounds in this study were PFBS, PFHxS and PFOA. The interim health advisories [HA] released by the EPA in 2022 for PFOS and PFOA were exceeded in every sample in which they were detected in this study.” [PFOA HA = 0.004 parts per trillion, PFOS HA = 0.02 ppt]
“Scientists collected tap water samples from 716 locations representing a range of low, medium and high human-impacted areas. The low category includes protected lands; medium includes residential and rural areas with no known PFAS sources; and high includes urban areas and locations with reported PFAS sources such as industry or waste sites.”
“Most of the exposure was observed near urban areas and potential PFAS sources. This included the Great Plains, Great Lakes, Eastern Seaboard, and Central/Southern California regions. The study’s results are in line with previous research concluding that people in urban areas have a higher likelihood of PFAS exposure. USGS scientists estimate that the probability of PFAS not being observed in tap water is about 75% in rural areas and around 25% in urban areas.”
The USGS study is getting a lot of media coverage and the focus appears to be primarily on the modeling done by USGS and on statements like the following statement from the abstract: “We estimate that at least one PFAS could be detected in about 45% of US drinking-water samples.”
On Wednesday, June 28th, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm (EDT) EPA will hold a webinar titled “Supporting Private Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) with the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).”
Link to Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3235276012326084960
Topics will include:
• Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) LSLR provisions and funding options from the DWSRF
• Examples of how state DWSRF programs support private LSLR
• Examples of how public water systems conduct LSLR
On June 16, 2023, the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) posted the enclosed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 µg/L for hexavalent chromium (CrVI). There will be a 45-day public comment period. CrVI Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
DDW will hold a public hearing on August 2, 2023 at 1:00 pm. The deadline to submit public comments is August 4, 2023.
Additional attachments for the ISOR can be found at the following website (scroll down to the heading “Rulemaking Documentation”):
In the June 9, 2023 Federal Register (Fed Reg_EPA Extend Public Comment Period on PFAS as Hazardous Substances) EPA is extending the public comment period for providing “input and data” on designating seven PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). The original June 12, 2023 deadline to submit comments to EPA has been extended sixty days until August 11, 2023.
On September 6, 2022 EPA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund). That proposal is not yet final.
• Gen X
In the same Federal Register notice EPA is also considering designating (1) precursors to PFOA, PFOS and the seven PFAS listed above, and (2) groups or categories of PFAS as hazardous substances, and requested public input.
EPA Developing PFAS Enforcement Policy Under CERCLA
EPA is currently developing a PFAS Enforcement Policy under CERCLA. In March 2023 EPA held two public “listening sessions” on the enforcement policy. During those listening sessions, EPA staff stated that they do not intend to pursue CERCLA PFAS enforcement actions against public water systems or wastewater systems. The policy is not final…and it is not known if that will be EPA’s final position.
Link to the webpage with the recordings of EPA’s March 2023 listening sessions.
Scroll down and click on the link for the March 14, 2023 recording. At about the 10 minute mark, EPA staff begin to comment that they do not intend to pursue enforcement of PFAS wastes under CERCLA against public water systems.
In the June 2, 2023 publication of the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published an article titled: “Community Water Fluoridation Levels To Promote Effectiveness and Safety in Oral Health — United States, 2016–2021” MMWR Article on Fluoridation
Copied below are some statements from the article:
“Drinking water fluoridated at the level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) reduces dental caries (cavities) by approximately 25% in children and adults. USPHS recommends fluoride levels to achieve oral health benefits and minimize risks associated with excess fluoride exposure. To provide the benefits of community water fluoridation, water systems should target a level of 0.7 mg/L and maintain levels ≥0.6 mg/L.”
“Water fluoridation promotes health equity through its proven effects on decreasing caries, reducing costs to families, and being readily available at the tap. In light of these benefits, Healthy People 2030, an ongoing initiative to improve popu¬lation health, set the objective to increase the proportion of U.S. residents served by optimally fluoridated water systems to 77.1% from 73.0% in 2018.”
“Maintaining and improving access to optimally fluoridated water remains a vital, safe, and successful method for reducing dental caries and their associated costs for communities and families.”
Status of Lawsuit To Ban Drinking Water Fluoridation: On November 23, 2016 a petition was filed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requesting that EPA prohibit the addition of fluoridation chemicals to US water supplies. The stated objective of the petition was to “protect the public and susceptible subpopulations from the neurotoxic risks of fluoride by banning the addition of fluoridation chemicals to water.’’ The petition was submitted by the following organizations: Fluoride Action Network, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and several individuals. In a decision published February 27, 2017 EPA denied the petition. EPA concluded that the “petition has not set forth a scientifically defensible basis to conclude that any persons have suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S. through the purposeful addition of fluoridation chemicals to drinking water or otherwise from fluoride exposure in the U.S.” In April 2017 the petitioners filed a lawsuit in a California District Court. A 7-day trial was held in June 2020, with no ruling by the Court. The trial will begin again on January 29, 2024. “The court has set aside two weeks to hear testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses focused on new evidence and science published since the last trial dates in 2020, including the NTP’s [National Toxicology Program] 6-year systematic review of fluoride’s neurotoxicity
Public Comment Period Closed for Proposed PFAS MCLs
The proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS, and the proposed Hazard Index MCL for four additional PFAS were published in the March 29, 2023 Federal Register for public review and comment. Public comment period closed on May 30, 2023. EPA’s goal is to public final MCLs by the end of 2023. In the public docket at the moment there are 275 public comments submitted on the proposal (it is expected that that number will increase as the public docket is updated).
Link to copy of American Water Works Association public comments on proposed PFAS MCLs:
PFAS Manufactures and Public Health Information
The Journal “Annals of Global Health” published an article on PFAS titled “The Devil they Knew: Chemical Documents Analysis of Industry Influence on PFAS Science.” In the results section of the article abstract the authors state: “Our review of industry documents shows that companies knew PFAS was “highly toxic when inhaled and moderately toxic when ingested” by 1970, forty years before the public health community.” Link to Annals of Global Health article: Annals of Global Health
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