U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Policy and Guidance

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Federal Policy and Guidance | State Policy and Guidance | International Policy and Guidance | Technical Guidance | Additional Resources

Federal Policy and Guidance

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Table of Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants shows that currently (June 2017) no PFASs are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but in May 2016 EPA issued "a lifetime drinking water Health Advisory (HA) for PFOAAdobe PDF Logo of 0.07 micrograms per liter (µg/L) based on a reference dose (RfD) derived from a developmental toxicity study in mice." For PFOSAdobe PDF Logo EPA issued a lifetime drinking water HA of "0.07 micrograms per liter (µg/L) based on a reference dose (RfD) derived from a developmental toxicity study in rats." Additionally, as stated in both HAs, "RfDs for both PFOA and PFOS are based on similar developmental effects and are numerically identical; when these two chemicals co-occur at the same time and location in a drinking water source, a conservative and health-protective approach that EPA recommends would be to compare the sum of the concentrations ([PFOA] + [PFOS]) to the HA (0.07 µg/L)." These HAs supersede the 2009 EPA Provisional Health Advisories for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS)Adobe PDF Logo of 0.4 µg/L for PFOA and 0.2 µg/L for PFOS.

On May 2, 2012, under the authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA issued the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3), which included six PFAS compounds in its table of List 1 ContaminantsAdobe PDF Logo. UCMR3 involved Assessment Monitoring for 21 List 1 chemical contaminants using six EPA-approved analytical methods and four equivalent consensus methods. List 1 contaminants are always associated with an Assessment Monitoring sampling design. Public water systems subject to Assessment Monitoring were sampled within a 12-month period during 2013-2015.

Under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA issued a series of significant new use rules, or SNURS, to require manufacturers (including importers) and processors of these chemicals to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals.

PFASs are not considered to be hazardous substances under CERCLA or RCRA.

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State Policy and Guidance

Alaska prepared an Interim Technical MemorandumAdobe PDF Logo (August 25, 2016) to propose cleanup levels for PFOS and PFOA in soil and groundwater.

CaliforniaAdobe PDF Logo has not adopted drinking water standards for any perfluoroalkyl substances but does have a biomonitoring program that includes 12 PFASs. [Accessed August 6, 2017.]

Delaware, in its DNREC Site Investigation & Restoration Section Screening Level TableAdobe PDF Logo (July 2016), adopted EPA's Lifetime Health Advisory Level as the groundwater screening level and EPA Region 4's Residential Soil Screening Level of 6 mg/kg PFOS and 16 mg/kg PFOA. For perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS), the groundwater screening level is 38 µg/L and the soil screening level is 160 mg/kg. The same values are listed in the Reporting Level TableAdobe PDF Logo (July 2016), except no groundwater reporting level is given for PFBS.

Illinois, according to a personal communication provided for the 2015 ASTSWMO issue paper on perfluorinated chemicalsAdobe PDF Logo, "uses Reference Doses derived by the State of Minnesota with the procedures of 35 IAC Part 742 to develop a suite of provisional soil remediation objectives for the Ingestion and Migration to Groundwater pathways."

MaineAdobe PDF Logo has adopted the 2016 U.S. EPA lifetime health advisory for PFOA and PFOS of 0.07 µg/L as maximum exposure guidelines, including combined levels not to exceed 0.07 ppb when both PFOS and PFOA are present in drinking water (December 31, 2016). Values for PFOA and PFOS are listed in Maine's Remedial Action GuidelinesAdobe PDF Logo (February 5, 2016).

Massachusetts issued a draft fact sheet—Guidance on Sampling and Analysis for PFAS at Disposal Sites Regulated under the Massachusetts Contingency PlanAdobe PDF Logo (January 2017)—that contains a summary of physical and chemical properties, environmental health impacts, analytical methods, and advice on when and how to sample and analyze for PFASs.

MichiganAdobe PDF Logo has an ambient surface water standard (effective October 21, 2015) of 12 µg/L PFOA and 0.012 µg/L PFOS. Surface water used as drinking water calls for 0.42 µg/L PFOA and 0.011 µg/L PFOS.

Minnesota has adopted drinking water health risk limits for PFOA (0.035 µg/L) and PFOS (0.027 µg/L) (both updated May 23, 2017), and 7 µg/L for perfluorobutanoic acid and perfluorobutane sulfonate along with other PFAS guidelines:

New Hampshire established EPA's health advisory values for PFOS and PFOA as the State's ambient groundwater quality standards, effective October 22, 2016, and issued PerFluorinated Compound (PFC) Sample Collection GuidanceAdobe PDF Logo (November 2016).

New Jersey adopted an Interim Specific Class IIA Ground Water StandardAdobe PDF Logo for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)Adobe PDF Logo of 0.01 µg/L (effective November 25, 2015). The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommended a PFOA health-based MCL of 0.014 µg/L to the Department of Environmental Protection on March 15, 2017.

New York added PFOA-acid, PFOA-salt, PFOS-acid, and PFOS-salt to the list of hazardous substances at 6 NYCRR Part 597, Hazardous Substances Identification, Release Prohibition, and Release Reporting, effective March 3, 2017, and issued Guidelines for Sampling and Analysis of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Under NYSDEC's Part 375 Remedial Programs Adobe PDF Logo (January 2020).

North Carolina's Science Advisory Board recommended an Interim Maximum Allowable Level for PFOA in groundwater of 1.0 µg/L to the State's Division of Water Quality on July 31, 2012. The recommendation remains pending as of August 7, 2017.

Texas lists protective concentration levels. (PCLs) for 16 PFASs in soils and groundwater in its Tier 1 PCL and supporting tables, revised March 31, 2017.

Vermont finalized primary groundwater quality standards for PFOA and PFOS individually or in sum at 0.02 µg/L and set preventive action levels of 0.01 µg/L for either or both in its Groundwater Protection Rule and Strategy, adopted December 16, 2016.

West Virginia in August 2002 published a C-8 Assessment of Toxicity Team report that set human health protective screening criteria for ammonium perfluorooctanoate (APFO, i.e., C-8 or PFOA) in drinking water at 150 µg/L; soil screening criteria at 240 mg/kg; and an aquatic life advisory concentration at 1,360 µg/L.

WisconsinAdobe PDF Logo updated the numerical soil standards in the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) spreadsheet of residual contaminant levels (RCLs) to change the direct-contact RCLs for PFOS, PFOA, and potassium perfluorooctane sulfonate (K+PFOS) (Non-industrial: 1.26 mg/kg; Industrial: 16.4 mg/kg) and for perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS) (Non-industrial: 1,260 mg/kg; Industrial: 16,400 mg/kg) in March 2017.

Additional Resources

Regulation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC), 2 pp plus 2 Excel files, 2022

Technical Resources for Addressing Environmental Releases of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Team, Report No. PFAS-1, 2023.

Designed specifically to provide state and federal environmental staff, as well as stakeholders, project managers, and decision-makers a working knowledge of the current state of PFAS science and practice, this document was developed by a team of over 400 environmental practitioners drawn from state and federal government, academia, industry, environmental consulting, and public interest groups. It summarizes the current understanding of all aspects of PFAS from a broad perspective. The guide covers the definition of PFAS, their environmental behavior, evaluation of PFAS in the environment, techniques used to remediate PFAS, major concerns of communities and tribes, how to share PFAS knowledge, and special topics. ITRC has released 10 PFAS training modules to accompany the document. Topics covered include including sampling and analysis, treatment technologies, risk communication, human and ecological effects, fate and transport, and risk assessment and regulations, among others.

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International Policy and Guidance

Australia issued Health Based Guidance Values for PFAS for Use in Site Investigations in Australia (April 2017), which expresses values for PFOS, PFOA, and PFHxS as tolerable daily intake through food, drinking water, and recreational water for assessing potential exposure to PFASs.

Canada has issued Drinking Water Screening ValuesAdobe PDF Logo (DWSV) for nine PFASs, including 0.2 µg/L PFOA and 0.6 µg/L PFOS (February 2016), as guidance where formal guidelines have not been determined for water intended for human consumption. A maximum acceptable concentration of 0.2 µg/L has been proposed for PFOA in drinking water and 0.6 µg/L for PFOS in drinking water (June 30, 2016). Canada lists PFOS, PFOA, and other perfluorinated compounds on its Toxic Substances List - Schedule 1 (as of June 14, 2017). Draft Federal Environmental Quality Guidelines for PFOS (February 2017) were developed to provide benchmarks for the quality of the ambient environment.

Japan specifies that for appropriate handling and incineration of PFOS-containing solids and liquids, "The content of PFOS in the effluent and residues released during the process of destruction shall not exceed the following standards: i. Effluent: 2 µg/L, ii. Residue: 3 mg/kg," in its Summary of the Guideline on the Treatment of Wastes Containing Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS), and Its Salts in Japan (Ministry of the Environment of Japan, 2013).

In Germany, the German Ministry of Health's Drinking Water CommissionAdobe PDF Logo (July 13, 2006) based a composite precautionary guidance value for drinking water of 0.1 µg/L for long-term exposure to PFOA and PFOS. A strict health-based level for PFOA was set at 0.3 µg/L while a composite health-based guide value of 0.3 µg/L was calculated for PFOS. Germany also added PFOS to its environmental quality standards as per Directive 2013/39/EUAdobe PDF Logo (November 2013) for annual average and maximum allowable concentrations in watercourses, lakes, transitional and coastal waters, and fish.

The parties of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have issued (January 2017) general principles and guidance on the most appropriate combination of environmental control measures and strategies for managing PFOS and PFOS-related substances in addition to specific guidance by industrial process category on techniques and practices for managing PFOS and PFOS-related substances.

The United Kingdom Drinking Water Inspectorate provides (October 2009Adobe PDF Logo) to water utilities for appropriate responses to specific variations in concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water.

Additional Resources

CRC CARE. 2017. Assessment, Management and Remediation Guidance for Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Part 1: Background. CRC CARE Technical Report no. 38, CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment, Newcastle, Australia. [See page 18.]

Danish Environmental Protection Agency. 2015. Perfluoroalkylated Substances: PFOA, PFOS and PFOSA: Evaluation of Health Hazards and Proposal of a Health Based Quality Criterion for Drinking Water, Soil and Ground Water [See Chapter 5.]

OECD. 2015. Risk Reduction Approaches for PFASs: A Cross-Country Analysis. OECD Environment, Health and Safety Publications, Series on Risk Management No. 29. [See pages 27-60.]

Additional Resources

Adobe PDF LogoDrinking Water Treatment For PFAS Selection Guide
American Water Works Association, 50 pp, 2020

The purpose of this guide is to assist with drinking water treatment decisions for PFAS. The guide reviews treatment technologies with demonstrated ability to remove PFAS, answers technical questions important to the technology selection process, and discusses how data may be developed and organized to support decision-making.

Regulation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council (ITRC), 2 pp plus 2 Excel files, 2022

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Technical Guidance

Interim Guideline on the Assessment and Management of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): Contaminated Sites Guidelines
Government of Western Australia, Department of Environment Regulation, Perth. Version 2.1, 34 pp, 2017

This document assists environmental practitioners in Australia with the assessment and management of PFASs within the current legislative framework. The document briefly addresses the assessment and management of PFAS contamination; assessment of risks to human health and the environment; availability and derivation of generic assessment levels; and remediation and management of PFAS-affected sites.

Adobe PDF LogoLines of Evidence and Best Practices to Assess the Effectiveness of PFAS Remediation Technologies
Deeb, R.A., E.L. Hawley, J. Merrill, M.C. Kavanaugh, D. Sedlak, C. Higgins, and J. Field. SERDP Project ER18-1633, 48 pp, 2022

This report summarizes the scientific state of knowledge regarding the potential for bias in pfas sampling, presents findings of new research conducted under this SERDP project, and provides scientifically based guidelines for practical field sampling equipment and procedures to minimize the potential for bias.

Adobe PDF LogoPerfluorinated Compounds Interim Guidance
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, 19 pp, 2015

This brief guide assists Navy RPMs with programmatic and technical issues related to PFASs at Navy Environmental Restoration sites. The issues discussed include eligibility and funding responsibilities and scenarios, investigation and sampling methodology, and remedial response considerations. A main point of interest is how to address PFASs when there is potential drinking water exposure. General guidance is presented in the form of responses to FAQs (frequently asked questions).

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Additional Resources

Adobe PDF Logo2012 Edition of the Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisories
USEPA, Office of Water, EPA 822-S-12-001, 20 pp, 2012

Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS
USEPA, Ground Water and Drinking Water Website, accessed June 30, 2016

EPA Creates Database to Find Thermal Treatment Processes for Remediating PFAS
EPA Science Matters, June 7, 2022

Adobe PDF LogoList of Lists: Consolidated List of Chemicals Subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act.
USEPA, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, EPA 550-B-12-003, 122 pp, 2012

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) under TSCA
EPA Website, accessed May 31, 2016

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