Katherine Suell

EPA Takes Steps in Regulation of Emerging Contaminants

Last week, the EPA finalized and released the human health toxicity assessment for hexafluropropylene oxide (HFPO) dimer acid and its ammonium salt which are the two key chemicals associated with the processing aid technology used to make high-performance fluropolymers without perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These chemicals, known as GenX chemicals, were created by manufactures to replace PFOA. The assessment articulated the final chronic oral reference dose, the amount a person can ingest orally safely, as 0.000003 mg/kg per day. This finding is significant in part because it is a smaller safe daily dose than the agency found permissible for PFOA which GenX was formulated to replace. Though, the assessment indicates that the agency is reevaluating the toxicity information for PFOA.

This newest assessment builds on the agency’s previously published health assessments for PFAS which included perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; 2016), perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS; 2016), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid and potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS; 2021).  The assessment focused on the potential human health effects associated with oral exposure, and with this information now available the EPA said the public can expect drinking water health advisories for these chemicals in spring of 2022.

On a state level, in 2019 the New Jersey Department of Environmental protection established interim standards for PFOA and PFOS, but has not yet addressed GenX chemicals. And, on October 5, 2021, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released new water quality guidance values for PFOA, PFOS, and 1,4-Dioxane. New York’s DEC is accepting public comments on the new guidance values until November 5, 2021.

Moving into the next 12 months, we can expect to see continued actions relating to emerging contaminants at both a state and federal level. Parties engaged in groundwater remediation projects in particular should continue to monitor this arena and seek advice of environmental counsel if it is suspected that any of the class of emerging contaminants may be impacting an ongoing remediation project.

If you have any questions about this alert please contact the author, Katherine Suell, or any of the other members of MARC Law’s Environmental Group.



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