EPA adds five PFAS chemicals to list of Regional Screening and Removal Management Levels

EPA is taking an important step forward to protect people from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by adding five PFAS chemicals for a total of six PFAS chemicals to a list of risk-based values that help EPA determine if response or remediation activities are needed. EPA’s action provides the Agency with critical tools needed for Superfund and other Agency programs to investigate contamination and protect people from these PFAS chemicals using the latest peer-reviewed science.

“Aggressively addressing PFAS across America is an active and ongoing priority to the Biden-Harris Administration,” said Carlton Waterhouse, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “One key way that EPA is leading this effort is by relying on sound science to investigate risk from PFAS at Superfund sites.”

Screening and removal management levels are not cleanup standards. They are risk-based values that help EPA determine if further investigation or actions are needed to protect public health, such as, sampling, assessing risks, and taking further action, which could include providing alternative drinking water. These mechanisms allow site teams to make better site decisions that will protect nearby communities. 

The five PFAS additions include: hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt (HFPO-DA – sometimes referred to as GenX chemicals), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS). EPA added the first PFAS substance, PFBS or perfluorobutanesulfonic acid, to the Regional Screening Level and Regional Removal Management Level lists in 2014 and updated it in 2021 when EPA released its updated toxicity assessment for PFBS.

The science of PFAS is rapidly evolving. For PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS, EPA selected levels using the most updated final peer-reviewed information based on Minimal Risk Levels from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s 2021 toxicological profile. For the fifth chemical, HFPO-DA, EPA used a final peer-reviewed EPA toxicity value. EPA regularly reviews and updates Regional Screening Levels and Regional Removal Management Levels twice a year. As the science on PFAS evolves, EPA may update these values and add other PFAS chemicals.

Regional Screening Levels are used to identify contaminated media (i.e., air, tap water, and soil) at a site that may need further investigation. In general, if a contaminant concentration is below the screening level, no further action or investigation is needed. If the concentration is above the screening level, further investigation is generally needed to determine if some action is required. Regional Removal Management Levels are used to support EPA’s decisions to undertake a removal action under CERCLA, such as providing alternative drinking water, or remediation of contaminated media, if necessary.

In addition to updating the Regional Screening Levels and Regional Removal Management Levels, EPA is moving as quickly as possible to update the interim health advisories for PFOA and PFOS to reflect new science and input from the Science Advisory Board. Concurrently, EPA will continue to develop a proposed PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation for publication in fall 2022. EPA anticipates finalizing the rule in fall of 2023.

For more information for risk assessors:

For more information about EPA’s work to address PFAS, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pfas

Webinar: Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty through Waste Management Codes and Ordinances

June 30, 2022, 1 pm CDT
Register here.

Join us on June 30th to learn why developing tribal law is one of the purest and truest expressions of tribal sovereignty. Developing enforceable codes and ordinances can ultimately assist a tribe in addressing its unique environmental issues while honoring and preserving its traditions for future generations. Abandoned motor vehicles on tribal land can pose an especially challenging problem. Combining enforceable law with effective policy and tribal programs can be one path towards solving a difficult solid waste problem.

Annie Perry of Snowpony Consulting will share her in-depth knowledge related to the step-by-step process of developing codes and ordinances. Kori Ellien will discuss her experience implementing and enforcing environmental codes with the Yurok Tribe. Ms. Ellien will also highlight the success the Tribe has had at preserving tribal traditions by removing abandoned vehicles on the Yurok Tribe’s land.

Interior unveils guidance for getting coal mine cleanup money

Read the full story at E&E News.

The Biden administration has unveiled guidance for states and some Indigenous communities seeking to tap $725 million in grant funding to clean up abandoned coal mine sites.

The Interior Department released a draft outline today guiding states and communities that are part of the Navajo Nation on how they can apply for some of the first $725 million of $11.3 billion in funding made available over 15 years from the bipartisan infrastructure law passed last year. The funding can be used for cleaning up old coal mining sites left behind by operators without being reclaimed.

Missouri considers new coal ash rule. Opponents say it would allow ‘water pollution with impunity’

Read the full story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Environmental advocates, lawyers and state regulators are squaring off again over how Missouri regulates coal ash, the waste from burning coal that is laced with mercury, arsenic and other contaminants.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has proposed a permit that would authorize water “impacted” by coal ash storage sites to be discharged into underground waterways, and not regularly monitored.

Climate change likely to reduce the amount of sleep that people get per year

Read the full story from Cell Press.

Most research looking at the impact of climate change on human life has focused on how extreme weather events affect economic and societal health outcomes on a broad scale. Yet climate change may also have a strong influence on fundamental daily human activities — including a host of behavioral, psychological, and physiological outcomes that are essential to wellbeing. Investigators now report that increasing ambient temperatures negatively impact human sleep around the globe.

New strategies to save rice, the world’s most indispensable grain

Read the full story from the University of California-Riverside.

Plants — they’re just like us, with unique techniques for handling stress. To save one of the most important crops on Earth from extreme climate swings, scientists are mapping out plants’ own stress-busting strategies. Biologists have learned what happens to the roots of rice plants when they’re confronted with two types of stressful scenarios: too much water, or too little. These observations form the basis of new protective strategies.

Poll the audience: Using data from citizen science to keep wild birds in flight

Read the full story from Utah State University.

New research examines the accuracy of information produced by citizen science apps for monitoring bird populations and found that it could actually offer a lot of utility for researchers, with some caveats.

Habitat protection alone doesn’t guarantee species protection

Read the full story at Anthropocene.

In a wide-ranging study, scientists tracked how 27,000 waterbird populations fared in 1,500 protected areas—compared to similar unprotected areas . Their results are instructive.

Report: Construction workers on the front lines of climate change risks

Read the full story at Construction Dive.

A new California legislative analysis suggests climate change poses a particular risk to employees who cannot avoid outdoor exposure, including construction workers, and that the risk is increasing.

It says that construction workers face increased occupational risks and health hazards from greater exposure to elements like heat and air pollution. They are also at greater risk of decreased productivity and disruptions that make work less stable and predictable, such as extreme heat and wildfire smoke threats shortening the viable construction season or causing work slowdowns.

Certain populations carry a larger burden, according to the report from the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office. At higher risk are low- and middle-wage workers and Latinos, because that population makes up a disproportionate share — about 60% — of California’s outdoor workforce.

When Americans think about science, what do they have in mind?

Read the full story from the Pew Research Center.

About two-thirds of U.S. adults (65%) say science has had a mostly positive effect on society, while 28% say it has had an equal mix of positive and negative effects and just 7% say it has had a mostly negative effect, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Over the past few years, around two-thirds or more of Americans have seen science’s effect on society as mostly positive.