PFAS – A NEW Challenge for Environmental Due Diligence Part 1< Back

Historical Overview and Current Regulatory Action

What is PFAS?

Per- and polyfluorinated / polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) aka “Forever Chemicals” refers to a group of compounds that are heat resistant, create non-stick surfaces, provide waterproofing qualities, and are used in some firefighting foams. PFAS has also been used in a variety of personal care products such as shampoo, detergent, Teflon coated pans, and other household items. When referring to PFAS, keep in mind there are nearly 10,000 unique PFAS related compounds used throughout industry today.

Where did PFAS come from?

PFAS was originally discovered in the 1930s, which led to the development of the first widely used PFAS chemical, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) aka Teflon. Widespread adoption of the use of PFAS compounds in global manufacturing processes began in the 1950s and continued through the 1990s when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) became aware of the potential health risks associated with PFAS compounds. By the early 2000s the EPA began working alongside prominent industry leaders to reduce the widespread use of the PFAS chemicals considered to be the most toxic.

What is the EPA’s plan?

After three (3) years of evaluation, the U.S. EPA announced in April 2024 they would be implementing the final rule on the first regulatory action against PFAS in drinking water. On June 25, 2024, the EPA will enact their initial set of drinking water limits (MCLs) for a small group of PFAS compounds. Two (2) PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), have been subject to the largest degree of concern from regulators and industry leaders. As such, on July 8, 2024, PFOA and PFOS will be designated as hazardous substances under CERCLA (aka “Superfund”). The below table was sourced from the EPA’s PFAS Summary Webpage.

In South Carolina, all groundwater is considered a potential source of drinking water. Therefore, the MCLs, outlined above, are also the maximum allowable concentrations in the State’s groundwater.

These materials have been prepared by EnviroSouth, Inc. for informational purposes only. The information shall not be construed as legal or professional advice. Readers should seek professional advice before acting on any information.