--> Regulation of the Emerging Contaminants, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), in California

AAPG Pacific Section Convention, 2020 Vision: Producing the Future:

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Regulation of the Emerging Contaminants, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), in California


National and State policies are changing rapidly surrounding a large class of man-made chemicals that have been found in the environment resulting from industrial, military, airport and waste management practices. During 2019 and 2020, California issued orders to owners/operators of more than 1000 California facilities requiring environmental investigation/sampling for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). With California drinking water action levels set in the low parts per trillion level, the consequences have already reached far beyond the primary users of these chemicals to other groups, such as water providers and wastewater dischargers. USEPA Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program sampling documented PFAS in water production wells across the US with a high density of detections in California, particularly, Southern California. While these chemicals have been reported to pose health risks at extremely low concentration, are highly persistent in the environment, and detected in widespread areas, wastes containing these chemicals have not been classified by the U.S. EPA as hazardous and limited federal action has been taken to date (though USEPA promises to propose a maximum contaminant level in drinking water soon). Filling this void, states have taken the lead on regulating discharges. That said, there is often poor science and hype being propagated through media outlets, which may make PFAS exposure appear to have an outsized risk relative to other environmental health hazards. This presentation will provide the audience general background information on PFAS and the plans for regulatory action in California.