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Status of EPA Research and Development on PFAS

EPA researchers are working on a wide range of activities to help understand PFAS and reduce risks to the public. This page contains the status of these activities and will be updated at least quarterly.  See EPA's main PFAS research page for more information. Last update: January 15, 2021.

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Methods to Detect and Quantify PFAS - EPA researchers are developing and validating laboratory methods to detect and quantify selected PFAS in air, water, and soil.

Title Description Status More Information
Method 537.1 Method 537.1 is a solid phase extraction (SPE) liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) method for selected PFAS, including GenX, in drinking water. Complete. This Method is a replacement for former Method 537. Access the final method here.
SW846 Method 8327 SW846 Method 8327 is a draft method to measure a group of 24 PFAS compounds in groundwater, surface water, and wastewater samples. Once final, it will be included in the SW846 Compendium. Reviewing public comments and making final revisions. Access the draft method here.
CWA Method 1600

EPA is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop an isotope dilution method for non-drinking water aqueous matrices (surface water, groundwater, wastewater influent/effluent, landfill leachate), fish tissues, biosolids, soils, and sediments.

Note: EPA and the Department of Defense are collaborating on the development of this method. A draft method will be posted by EPA after validation studies are complete.
Expect to complete validation in Q1 2021. Access the list of PFAS analytes here. 
OTM 45 Method to measure PFAS in air emissions from stationary sources. Published January 2021. EPA intends for the scientific community to provide feedback on OTM-45. EPA will consider and incorporate feedback to keep improving the method. 
PFAS Source (Air) Emission Measurement Methods Refined methods to measure and characterize volatile and semivolatile, polar and nonpolar compounds, including Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs). Expected Q3 2021. No further information at this time. 
PFAS Atmospheric Deposition  Sampling Methods Sampling methods to measure atmospheric deposition of PFAS. Initial work includes pilot testing.  This work is in its early stages.  No further information at this time. 
Standard Operating Procedures for Total Organic Fluorine (TOF) TOF methods can indicate the total amount of fluorine present and may be a viable approach to quickly screen for PFAS and to identify situations where more specific measurements are needed.  This work is in its early stages. No further information at this time.  
Analytical Model to Identify Novel PFAS Using Non-Targeted Analysis Data High resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) to qualitatively identify PFAS substances without a standard method. Expected Q3 2020.  Read the Science Matters article about this work.

Assessing PFAS Human Toxicity -
EPA researchers are developing standard human health toxicity reference values for specific PFAS where sufficient scientific data exist.  EPA researchers are also applying computational and high throughput toxicology tools for PFAS toxicity testing on a larger scale.

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Toxicity Value Assessment for PFBS Toxicity assessment that will help states, tribes, and local communities understand the toxicity associated with PFBS. Expect final assessment Q4 2020.  More information is available here. EPA’s Office of Water is also working on an assessment for GenX chemicals. 
Toxicity Value Assessments for PFBA, PFHxA, PFDA, PFHxS, and PFNA Toxicity assessments that will help states, tribes, and local communities understand the toxicity associated with these five PFAS chemicals. Released systematic review protocol on November 8, 2019. Expect to begin releasing draft assessments for public comment beginning in Q4 2020, on a rolling basis.

Access the Systematic Review Protocol here.  

Latest schedule is available in the IRIS Program Outlook

PFAS Chemical Library A chemical library of known PFAS to aid testing for environmental decision-making. EPA programs, regions, and states can request access to samples of PFAS compounds to use for lab validations and research. 

The library chemicals are now available.

Library is now available to internal EPA customers and states.

Tier 1 Toxicity Testing

High-throughput toxicity testing on ~120 different PFAS chemicals, representing a range of PFAS. Work will yield information for prioritizing chemicals for further testing and to inform possible categorization. 


Literature and laboratory generated-data will be available Q4 2020.

EPA expects a draft report for internal review in Q4 2020.

Learn more about EPA’s high throughput research here.
Prioritization of chemicals for Tier 2 PFAS Testing

The 120 PFAS chemicals tested in Tier 1 will be prioritized based on existing data, data generated through the tier one testing, and exposure information.

Recommendations for risk-basedTier 2 testing strategy are expected Q4 2020. No further information at this time.

Assessing PFAS Ecological Toxicity - EPA researchers are studying the effects of PFAS on ecological systems.

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
ECOTOX Knowledgebase - Update This database contains information that can be used by scientists to identify potentially susceptible species, understand bioaccumulation, and support decisions to protect ecosystems. Continuous. As of June 11, 2020, EPA has updated the ECOTOX Knowledgebase to include ecotoxicological data of 18,140 total records from 440 species exposed to 112 PFAS.  Access ECOTOX here.
Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) Development of putative AOPs for PPAR signaling (fish) and thyroid dysfunction (avian). Expected Q2 2021.

No further information at this time. 

Learn more about AOPs at EPA. 

Bioaccumulation Models in Fish Review literature, generate data, and develop updated PFAS bioaccumulation models in fish. Expected Q3 2021. No further information at this time.

Researching PFAS Exposure - EPA researchers are measuring PFAS in air, drinking water, soils, etc., to understand how and to what degree people might be exposed to PFAS. 

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
CompTox Chemicals Dashboard – PFAS Chemicals A curated list of PFAS chemical data that includes physicochemical properties, environmental fate and transport data, toxicity data, and more. This is in EPA’s CompTox Chemicals Dashboard, which is a first-stop shop for chemistry, toxicity, and exposure information for ~900,000 chemicals. Ongoing. The Dashboard currently contains information on PFAS substances organized by various lists. See more information on these chemicals here.
PFAS Fate and Transport Case Study  Study of PFAS Fate and Transport around Fayetteville, NC. This work will advance the understanding of how PFAS moves through the environment.  Expected Q4 2020. No further information at this time.
American Healthy Homes Survey Dataset on PFAS in Homes Lab analysis of water, dust, and soil found in homes. In collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This work is in its early stages. No further information at this time.
Exposure Analysis Develop a framework for comparative exposure analysis. Expected Q2 2021. No further information at this time. 
Human Exposure Model Develop and apply a multi-media human exposure model to 6 PFAS. This work will help estimate human exposures to PFAS. Expected Q4 2021. No further information at this time. 

Drinking Water Treatment Options - EPA researchers are evaluating different drinking water treatment technologies that can remove certain PFAS from drinking water systems

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Pilot-scale Water Treatment for PFAS Manuscripts on the efficacy of drinking water treatment methods at the pilot scale. Expected Q4 2020 No further information at this time.
Drinking Water Ion Exchange Treatment Performance Models Drinking water treatability manuscripts and corresponding models for ion exchange (IX).  Expected Q4 2020 No further information at this time, but learn more about Ion Exchange treatment at EPA’s Drinking Water Treatability Database.
Drinking Water Point of Use and Point of Entry Devices Studies on the efficacy of off-the-shelf, commercially-available household water treatment systems. Studies will evaluate granular activated carbon (GAC), reverse osmosis (RO), and ion exchange (IX) treatment systems.  Studies for GAC and RO systems are complete. The IX study is underway, and EPA expects to publish in Q1 2021.  GAC and RO study available here.  EPA also published a plain-language article about this work in EPA’s Science Matters. Learn more about GAC, RO, and IX treatment methods in this Science Matters article.
Drinking Water Treatability Database - Update Evaluation of technologies for removal of PFAS from drinking water. Will include performance and cost data, as well as models and tools to help communities determine optimal treatment choices.  Ongoing. As of July 2020, EPA  has updated the Database with 26 PFAS chemicals. Access the Drinking Water Treatability Database here.
Reactivation of PFAS-Laden Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Development of proper operating parameters for reactivation of GAC after removal of PFAS from water. In collaboration with DOD.  Draft results expected in Q1 2021. No further information at this time.
Incineration of Spent Granular Activation Carbon (GAC) and Ion Exchange (IX)  Studying the incineration of spent GAC and IX adsorption materials that have been used in water treatment applications for PFAS removal. In collaboration with DOD.  Draft results expected in Q2 2021. No further information at this time. 
Destruction of Ion Exchange (IX) Treatment Materials in Kiln Furnaces Investigation into the feasibility of destroying PFAS ion exchange treatment materials in kiln furnaces. Draft manuscript expected in Q4 2020. No further information at this time.

Cleaning Up and Managing PFAS Contamination- EPA researchers are characterizing how disposal approaches, such as landfills and incinerators, might contribute to PFAS in the environment to aid in cleanup efforts. EPA researchers are also developing methods for characterizing PFAS releases and movement in soil, water, and sediments at contaminated sites. 

Title  Description Status/Timeline More Information
Thermal Treatment of PFAS in soil  Studying the emissions and evaluating the efficacy of thermal treatment/removal of PFAS found in soil. In collaboration with DOD. Draft report expected in Q1 2021. No further information at this time.
Performance and Cost Models for Groundwater Remediation Performance and cost models for remediation options. This will help communities and site managers make informed choices in cleaning up PFAS-contaminated sites. Collaborating with DOD to develop. Expect to publish models in Q4 2020. No further information at this time.
Fate and Management of PFAS in Land-Applied Biosolids  Research producing multiple manuscripts to understand  PFAS fate and levels in biosolids  and potential management options.  Expect draft manuscripts in Q1 2021.

No further information at this time. 

Learn more about the land application of biosolids.

Incineration of PFAS Materials Studies on how PFAS materials could be incinerated as a method of disposal, includes a review of the state-of-the-science for thermal treatment of PFAS.

Review of the current state-of-the-science for thermal treatment of PFAS expected Q4 2020.

Initial reports are not expected until 2021.

A technical brief on Incineration to Manage PFAS Waste Streams is available here.
Thermal Treatment of PFAS in Biosolids Technical memo on the thermal treatment of PFAS contaminated biosolids. Expected Q2 2021. No further information at this time. 
PFAS in Landfill Leachate Summary of treatment approaches  for PFAS in landfill leachate, which include liquids and gases that are emitted from landfills.  Expected Q2 2021. No further information at this time.
PFAS and Vapor Intrusion Report on subsurface migration potential of PFAS into buildings and residences. Expected Q2 2021.

No further information at this time. 

Learn about vapor intrusion. 

Extramurally Funded Projects

Title Description Status/Timeline More Information
Grants to Support Research on PFAS Impacts in Rural Communities and Agricultural Operations Research to better understand the potential impacts of PFAS on water quality and availability in rural communities and agricultural operations across the United States. Research grants were announced in August 2020.

Learn more about the grant projects.

Read the press release.

Grants to Support Research on Practical Methods to Analyze and Treat Emerging Contaminants (PFAS) in Solid Waste, Landfills, Wastewater/Leachates, Soils, and Groundwater to Protect Human Health and the Environment Research to promote innovation in evaluating and managing PFAS in solid waste, landfills, and environmental media that will lead to improved decision making, management practices, and technical methods to minimize the risks to both humans and ecosystems. Research grants were awarded to eight recipients in 2019. Project completion dates are in Q3 2022.

Learn more about the recipients of the grant.

Read the press release announcing the awards.