PFAS Regulatory History
PFOA Stewardship Program
In 2006, EPA initiated the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major companies in the U.S. committed to reduce facility emissions and product contents of PFOA and related chemicals on a global basis by 95 percent 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, 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 PFOA-related chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in any process.
Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)
The EPA issued the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3)* in May 2012. The UCMR3 required all large public water systems (PWSs) serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWSs serving 10,000 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals between 2013 and 2015. Six PFAS were included in the UCMR3 contaminant list. Of the six PFAS, EPA issued health advisory levels for only two, PFOA and PFOS. The UCMR3 results found these two chemicals were present in less than 1 percent of the nearly 5,000 public water systems sampled per UCMR3.
In December 2016, the EPA issued the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR4). UCMR4 requires all large PWSs serving more than 10,000 people and 800 representative PWSs serving 10,000 or fewer people to sample for 30 chemicals between 2018 and 2020. There were no PFAS included on the UCMR4 list of contaminants.
EPA is currently proposing development of a Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5); the final rule is expected to be released in 2021. It is currently unknown whether PFAS will be included as part of UCMR5; however, several PFAS have been proposed for inclusion
* The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments require that once every five years EPA issue a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by PWSs.
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, regulatory levels; rather, they are levels that provide the public, including sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The health advisory is 70 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 are compared with the 70 ppt 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 on-base drinking water sampling for PFOA and PFOS for bases where groundwater was used as drinking water and PFAS could have been released nearby in the past. Navy and Marine Corps installations that were not required to sample finished drinking water under UCMR3, that produce drinking water from on-installation sources and have an identified or suspected PFAS release within approximately 1-mile upgradient to the drinking water source were also 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 PFOS and/or PFOA in drinking water exceeded the current at the time EPA 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 EPA health advisory.
DASN (E) Policy Memo, 14 Jun 2016
This policy expanded the sampling for PFOA and PFOS at all Department of Navy (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 Jun 2016
This policy defines the DON’s intention to remove, dispose, and replace legacy AFFF that contains PFOS and/or PFOA once environmentally suitable substitutes are identified and certified to meet military specification (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 and Marine Corps to identify and prioritize sites for investigation if drinking water resources, on- or off-installation, are thought to be vulnerable to PFAS contamination 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 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 Environmental Restoration program. We have 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 Guidance Memo, 15 October 2019
This guidance memo provided clarification of toxicity values for PFOA and PFOS 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.
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, 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 (not associated with use) 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.
ATSDR Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Frequently Asked Questions
ATSDR Interim Guidance: An Overview of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Interim Guidance for Clinicians Responding to Patient Exposure Concerns
ATSDR Perfluoroalkyls – ToxFAQs
ATSDR ToxGuide for Perfluoroalkyls
EPA Fact Sheet: PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories
EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan
EPA PFAS website
Assistant Secretary of the Navy PFAS website
Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)