PFAS Regulatory History
PFOA Stewardship Program
In 2006, EPA initiated the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major companies in the United States committed to reduce facility emissions and product contents of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95% no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. All U.S. companies have met the program goals. To meet the program goals, most companies stopped the manufacture and import of long-chained PFAS (such as PFOA and PFOS) and then transitioned to alternative chemicals. On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxics Substances Control Act to require manufacturers (including importers) of PFOA- and PFOS-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process.
Toxic Substances Control Act
On January 21, 2015, EPA proposed a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxics Substances Control Act to require manufacturers (including importers) of PFOA- and PFOS-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process. The effective date of the final SNUR was September 25, 2020. On June 3, 2021, EPA published a final rule (effective January 1, 2021) to incorporate three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). On June 10, 2021, EPA withdrew some SNUR guidance and issued a proposed rule for new reporting requirements for manufacturers of PFAS.
Safe Drinking Water Act
The Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes the EPA to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made chemicals that may be found in drinking water.
Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)
The EPA uses the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program to collect data for chemicals suspected to be in the nation’s drinking water, but that do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Every 5 years, EPA develops a new list of chemicals that will be monitored by the nation’s large public water systems (PWSs) serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative small PWSs (i.e., serving 10,000 or fewer people).
The Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) was issued in May 2012, and the sampling was completed in 2015. Six PFAS compounds were included in the UCMR3 contaminant list, including PFOA and PFOS. The UCMR3 results found these two chemicals were present in fewer than 1% of the nearly 5,000 public water systems that were sampled.
In December 2016, the EPA issued the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4). No PFAS were included on the UCMR4 list of contaminants that require analysis.
The Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) went into effect on January 26, 2022 (86 FR 73131). UCMR5 requires all PWSs serving more than 3,300 and a representative sample of 800 systems serving 3,300 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals (29 PFAS and lithium) between 2023 and 2025.
EPA Lifetime Health Advisories
In May 2016, the EPA Office of Water issued a drinking water lifetime Health Advisory for PFOA and PFOS. Health advisories are not enforceable, and are not regulatory levels; rather they are levels that provide Americans, including sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The lifetime Health Advisory is 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 70 ppt for PFOS. When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 ppt lifetime Health Advisory level.
Department of the Navy, Office of the Assistant Secretary (Environment) [DASN (E)] Policy Memo, 21 Oct 2014
The Navy issued a policy requiring sampling of on-base drinking water systems for PFOA and PFOS for bases where groundwater was used as drinking water and PFAS could have been released nearby in the past. This included installations that were not required to sample finished drinking water under UCMR3, that produce drinking water from on-installation groundwater sources, and have an identified or suspected PFAS release within approximately 1-mile upgradient of the drinking water source. Installations meeting these criteria were required to sample their finished drinking water by December 2015.
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Policy Memo, 14 Sept 2015
Similar to the October 2014 DASN (E) policy memo, this memo related to testing on-base drinking water. However, this memo also specified that if levels of PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water exceeded the current at the time EPA lifetime Health Advisory (that is the 2009 provisional short-term health advisories), then alternative drinking water must be supplied until the PFOA and/or PFOS levels were reduced to below the lifetime Health Advisory.
DASN (E) Policy Memo, 14 Jun 2016
This policy expanded the sampling of PFOA and PFOS at all DON installations where such sampling was not previously completed under EPA’s UCMR3 or the DON’s October 2014 policy. This memo also specified that for instances where drinking water from an installation is purchased from a public water system, but wasn't tested under UCMR3, that the installation must sample the finished drinking water to comply with this policy. Additionally, this policy included reporting requirements to the DASN (E) office for all PFOA and/or PFOS in drinking water results.
DASN (E) Policy Memo, 17 June 2016
This policy defines the DON’s intention to remove, dispose, and replace legacy AFFF that contains PFOA and/or PFOS once environmentally suitable substitutes are identified and certified to meet MILSPEC requirements. This policy directs the following actions be taken until suitable replacements are certified:
- Immediately cease the uncontrolled environmental release of AFFF for shoreside installations, with the exception of emergency responses.
- Update and implement Navy and Marine Corps firefighting system requirements, as needed, to ensure fire and emergency service vehicles and equipment at DON installations and facilities are tested and certified in a manner that does not allow the release of AFFF to the environment.
- By the end of Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), remove and dispose of uninstalled PFOS-containing AFFF in drums and cans from local stored supplies for shore installations and ships to prevent future environmental releases.
DASN (E) Policy Memo, 20 Jun 2016
This policy required the Navy to identify and prioritize sites for investigation if drinking water resources, on- or off-installation, are thought to be vulnerable to PFAS effects from past Navy and Marine Corps PFAS releases. Sites with drinking water sources within 1-mile downgradient from known or potential releases of PFAS were assigned the highest priority. This policy directed the sampling of off-base drinking water at these high priority (Priority 1) sites within FY17.
The primary mechanism to identify potential PFAS release sites and areas of concern (AOC), was review of Environmental Restoration, Navy (ER,N) records. To ensure that all potential PFAS release mechanisms were identified, installations were directed to review installations to identify areas that are not already part of the ER,N program. The Navy has completed the sampling for all off-base potentially impacted drinking water sources that were identified as a result of this policy, and currently known exposures have been addressed.
Department of Defense (DoD) Policy
Secretary of Defense Memo, 23 July 2019
This memo established a PFAS task force to ensure a coordinated, aggressive, and holistic approach to DoD-wide efforts to proactively address PFAS. The goals of the task force are mitigating and eliminating the use of the current AFFF, understanding the impacts of PFAS on human health, and fulfilling cleanup responsibility related to PFAS. The task force is coordinating and collaborating with other federal agencies to achieve these goals.
ASD Memo, 23 October 2019
This memo revised quarterly progress reporting requirements for installations with known or suspected PFAS releases.
ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019
This memo established requirements for installation commanders to conduct community engagement with respect to PFAS issues, to report on their progress in so doing, and to provide feedback on community questions and concerns.
ASD Guidance Memo, 22 November 2019
This memo established a consistent methodology for analysis of PFAS in media other than drinking water and requires DoD Components to use analytical methods meeting the DoD/DOE Quality Systems Manual for Environmental Laboratories, Appendix B, Table B-15.
ASD Memo, 13 January 2020
This memo established annual reporting requirements for AFFF usage or spills at all DoD installations.
ASD Policy Memo, 2 March 2020
This memo identifies requirements for PFAS drinking water sampling on DoD installations where DoD is the drinking water purveyor. The requirements include initial and routine monitoring, actions necessary if results exceed the lifetime Health Advisory, laboratory analysis and record keeping requirements, and notification of results.
ASD Guidance Memo, 15 September 2021
This guidance memo provides direction on use of toxicity values for PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS that can be used to estimate screening levels used in the CERCLA program to determine if further investigation is warranted or if a site can proceed to site closeout. It specifically updates the recommended toxicity value for PFBS that was revised by EPA in April 2021, and associated screening levels for PFBS.
ASD Guidance Memo, 7 December 2021
This guidance memo updates the 22 November 2019 guidance memo by requiring the use of EPA’s Draft Method 1633 “Analysis of PFAS in Aqueous, Solid, Biosolids, and Tissue Samples by LC-MS/MS” for analysis of PFAS in matrices other than drinking water for all new contracts and task orders issued after December 31, 2021. Existing projects are encouraged to use this method when ELAP-accredited laboratories become available.
ASD Guidance Memo, 22 December 2021
This memo provides clarifying guidance on what triggers the need for removal actions under CERCLA and how DoD should address properly promulgated State PFAS drinking water standards as part of a CERCLA removal action.