Regulatory Update: PFAS - From Guidance To Regulation

Oct. 15 2018

As more toxicological and chemical data are being published supporting widespread PFAS contamination and toxicity of specific compounds, jurisdictions around the world are migrating from provisional guidance values for specific PFAS to regulatory standards in drinking water, groundwater and soil.

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are certainly targets for regulation, but other PFAS including perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) are being regulated at trace levels as well. Some U.S. jurisdictions have also identified the PFAS replacement compound (GenX) for regulation.

More recently, in July 2018, after reviewing new studies suggesting that perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) can cause adverse health effects at levels lower than previously thought, and following the lead of other jurisdictions in the United States, Health Canada updated the drinking water screening value for PFNA to 20 ng/L (ppt).

In its amended Contaminated Sites Regulations (CSR), British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada to “regulate” PFAS in contaminated sites. Under the Stage 10 amendments to the BC CSR (November 1, 2017), PFOS, PFOA and PFBS are regulated in water to 0.3 ug/L, 0.2 ug/L and 80 ug/L, respectively. In soils, PFOS and PFBS are regulated to 0.35 ug/g and 350 ug/g, respectively.

As more information concerning environmental PFAS contamination and its toxicological effects becomes available, an increasing number of jurisdictions will promulgate regulatory standards for these compounds, particularly in drinking water, rather than offering provisional guidance levels.