Aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment continues to be an active and ongoing priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The USEPA has issued a memorandum detailing an interim National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting strategy for addressing PFAS in USEPA-issued wastewater permits. In addition, USEPA released information on progress in developing new analytical methods to test for PFAS compounds in wastewater and other environmental media. Together, these actions help ensure that federally enforceable wastewater monitoring for PFAS can begin as soon as validated analytical methods are finalized.
USEPA’s interim NPDES permitting strategy for PFAS provides recommendations from a cross-agency workgroup on an interim approach to include PFAS-related conditions in USEPA-issued NPDES permits. The strategy advises USEPA permit writers to consider including PFAS monitoring at facilities where these chemicals are expected to be present in wastewater discharges, including from municipal separate storm sewer systems and industrial stormwater permits. The individual PFAS that could be considered for monitoring are those that will have validated USEPA analytical methods for wastewater testing, which the USEPA anticipates being available on a phased-in schedule as multi-lab validated wastewater analytical methods are finalized. The interim strategy also encourages the use of best management practices where appropriate to control or abate the discharge of PFAS and includes recommendations to facilitate information sharing to foster adoption of best practices across States and localities.
In coordination with the interim NPDES permitting strategy, USEPA is also providing information on the status of analytical methods needed to test for PFAS in wastewater. USEPA is developing analytical methods in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense to test for PFAS in wastewater and other environmental media, such as soils. The Agency will release a list of 40 PFAS chemicals that are the subject of analytical method development. The methods would be in addition to Method 533 and Method 537.1 that are already approved and can measure 29 PFAS chemicals in drinking water. USEPA anticipates that multi-lab validated testing for PFAS will be finalized in 2021. Additional information on testing method validation is provided at: https://www.epa.gov/cwa-methods.