2023 has been a busy year for the Pace® emerging contaminants team and the customers we serve. In this special edition of Pace® News and Views, we look at some of the most significant EPA actions taken and proposed in the first half of the year as well as what we’re watching for the remainder of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024.
2023 – A Look in the Rearview Mirror
With less than two years left to achieve the goals outlined in the EPA’s 2012-2024 PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the agency stepped up its PFAS-related activity. Here are a few highlights:
January 2023 – UCMR 5 Sampling Begins. All Public Water Systems (PWS) covered by the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) were required to begin sampling for the 29 PFAS plus lithium in 2023. Not all systems follow the same schedule.
January 2023 – Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs) Plan 15 Finalized. Supported by available data, the EPA determined that ELGs for landfill leachate were warranted. Plan 15 also calls for further study of PFAS in wastewater discharge from textile mills and industrial discharge sent to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs).
January 2023 – PFAS Analytical Tools Published. The EPA’s PFAS Analytical Tools integrate nationally available data from programs such as UCMR with readily accessible public data from states, Tribes, and localities to provide a comprehensive view of the manufacture, release, and occurrence of PFAS in communities.
March 2023 – NPDWR Proposed for 6 PFAS. In addition to proposing the first-ever enforceable maximum contaminant limits (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, the EPA proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) limits on a combination of four additional PFAS compounds utilizing a Hazard Index (HI): PFBS, PFNA, PFHxS, and GenX (HFPO-DA). This rule is expected to be finalized in January of 2024.
April 2023 – EPA Issues ANPRM for Additional PFAS Under CERCLA/Superfund. In September of 2022, the EPA proposed designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act). Before that rule could be finalized, the agency issued another ANPRM (Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) in April seeking input regarding the designation of additional PFAS and other PFAS that degraded into those PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA.
May 2023 – EPA Proposes Removing LVEs from TSCA Reporting. Under the EPA’s Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), certain chemical compounds produced in low volumes or with a low risk of exposure are exempt from full premanufacture notice (PMN) review. In May of this year, the EPA proposed removing the low volume (LVE) and low risk of exposure (LoREX) exemptions for all PFAS.
June 2023 – EPA Announces a New Framework for New and New Uses of PFAS. Assessing new and new uses of potentially toxic chemicals has been part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for years. The new framework promises to tighten up the evaluation of PFAS with a risk-based approach.
June 2023 – Nine Additional PFAS Added to TRI. The number of PFAS added to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements continues to grow. In June, the EPA finalized a rule adding an additional nine PFAS for reporting year 2023. This ruling brings the total number of PFAS compounds covered by TRI to 189.
June 2023 – EPA Announces Delay in Hazardous Substances Designation Under RCRA. Originally intending to finalize the rule in August of this year, the EPA extended its deadline for the designation of PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, and GenX (HFPO-DA) as hazardous substances under RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) to February of 2024.
July 2023 – Draft Method 1633 Finalized for Aqueous Matrices. In July, the EPA announced that Draft 4 of Draft Method 1633 is finalized for aqueous matrices, including wastewater, surface water, and groundwater. Draft Method 1633 is expected to be finalized for all matrices by the end of the year.
The View Down the Road
Here are a few actions we’re anticipating based on EPA announcements for the remainder of 2023 and into Q1 of 2024.
September 2023 – TSCA Reporting Expansion. In 2021, the EPA proposed a rule expanding the TSCA reporting and record-keeping requirements for PFAS manufacturers. This rule is expected to be finalized in September 2023.
Late 2023 – Draft Method 1633 Expected to be Finalized. As noted above, the EPA expects to issue the final version of Method 1633 in late 2023 and to include quality control acceptance for all eight environmental matrices (wastewater, surface water, groundwater, soil, biosolids, sediment, landfill leachate, and fish tissue) derived from the multi-lab validation study. An accompanying DOD multi-laboratory validation study report that summarizes the results for the solid matrices and the landfill leachate matrix is also expected to be made available.
December 2023 – NPRM for Additional PFAS under TRI. Per the EPA’s regulatory agenda, the agency expects to issue a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which would add additional PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database under EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act).
January 2024 – NPDWR for 6 PFAS Finalized. The current expectation is that the EPA will finalize the NPDWR for PFAS in January 2024.
February 2024 – CERCLA Hazardous Substances Designation. As noted above, the EPA’s deadline for finalizing the rule listing PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, and GenX as hazardous constituents under CERCLA is now February 2024.
TBD – De Minimus Reporting Exemption – Late in 2022, the EPA published a proposed rule that would eliminate the de minimus reporting exemption for PFAS under TRI. The public comment period closed in February, but as of now, we have not heard anything new on this front.
Anything Could Happen
In the world of emerging contaminants, it’s important to be ready for just about anything. The EPA’s deadlines can be moved up as well as extended. As we’ve seen from the CERCLA and NPDWR proposals, the agency is also open to adding certain PFAS to existing proposals. We’ll keep watching in the months ahead and sharing the news as well as insights we think will be important to our customers. As always, if you need help navigating this journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.