New PFAS rules may increase treatment costs, spur litigation
February 27, 2020
PFAS, nicknamed “the forever chemicals,” are receiving a lot of attention from the news media and federal and state regulatory agencies. While California has not been on the leading edge of investigating or regulating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the State is working hard to play catch-up. Earlier this month, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) announced that it was adopting stricter response levels for the two most common PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). The new response levels are 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 40 ppt for PFOS. These new response levels represent a significant drop from the previous response level of 70 ppt, measured as the total concentration of the two contaminants combined. The new lower PFAS levels will result in many more public water systems with wells exceeding the new Response Levels, and more wells will likely be removed from service until they can be treated. This article reviews the significance of the new response levels in California and as compared to federal levels issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
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