EPA Releases First Year ProgressReport for PFAS Strategic Roadmap

The EPA recently issued a report covering progress made in the first year since the implementation of its PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Released in October 2021 with a goal of improving protection against contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the roadmap was designed to establish timeframes (for the period from 2021 through 2024) in which the Agency plans to take actions to address relevant problems. In this blog post, we consider key principles on which the EPA’s PFAS management efforts focus. We also note several major roadmap actions that have been taken to date, and look at upcoming areas of prioritization.

Key Principles

The EPA's established approach to addressing PFAS contamination revolves around several key principles:

  • Considering the Lifecycle of PFAS
    • As environmental release of PFAS continues throughout the manufacturing, processing, distribution, use, and disposal stages, the full PFAS lifecycle will be accounted for by the EPA.
  • Getting Upstream of the Problem
    • To minimize PFAS contamination risks, the Agency will place an increased emphasis on preventing these substances from entering the environment.
  • Holding Polluters Accountable
    • The Agency is working to hold polluters accountable for continued contamination.
  • Ensuring Science-Based Decision-Making
    • Decisions made by the EPA will be based on scientific analysis and evidence. The Agency will invest in relevant research to help identify processes for evaluating PFAS chemicals, and to address associated knowledge gaps.
  • Prioritizing Protection of Disadvantaged Communities
    • The Agency will make sure that disadvantaged communities have proper access to solutions to address the problem of PFAS chemicals.

Major Actions Taken

Since the implementation of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap last year, the EPA has made significant accomplishments in several key areas. These include:

  • Enhancing Chemical Safety
  • Safeguarding Drinking Water
  • Ensuring Clean Water
  • Cleaning Up PFAS Contamination
  • Strengthening the Scientific Foundation
  • Holding Polluters Accountable

Forthcoming Priorities

The EPA has identified several priorities relative to PFAS management on which it intends to focus in the coming year:

  • Propose a National Drinking Water Standard for PFOA and PFOS
    • Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA is proposing a rule to establish enforceable PFOA and PFOS limits in drinking water.
  • Complete CERCLA Designations
    • By 2023, the Agency plans to finalize actions on its proposal to classify PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
  • Restrict Upstream Discharges
    • Several steps are underway at the EPA to help decrease environmental PFAS discharges.
  • Address PFAS in Biosolids
    • A complete risk assessment covering PFOA and PFOS in biosolids is in progress. The Agency anticipates its release by 2024.
  • Improve Chemical Data and Safety
    • The EPA plans to issue and take action on additional rules, including ones to facilitate public access to PFAS data and promote safety.
  • Provide Public PFAS Tools
    • The Agency will release PFAS Analytic Tools to help stakeholders gain a better understanding of PFAS chemicals, their sources, routes of exposure, and more.
  • Engage with Communities
    • The Agency is dedicated to engaging with communities in various EPA Regions to gain a better understanding of the impacts of PFAS contamination.

More detailed information about the PFAS Strategic Roadmap, relevant steps taken thus far, and upcoming priorities may be found in the report “EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap: A Year of Progress”.

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