News Releases from Headquarters›Research and Development (ORD)
Federal Partners Kick Off Workshop on Federal Government Human Health PFAS Research with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
WASHINGTON (October 26, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) kicked off the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)’s Workshop on Federal Government Human Health Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Research. Aggressively addressing PFAS has been an active and ongoing priority for this Administration. This collaborative workshop will help to further coordinate PFAS research across the federal government and is an important part of EPA’s work under its PFAS Action Plan.
“EPA is committed to working with our federal partners and leading scientists around the world to advance cutting-edge research on PFAS,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Aggressively addressing these chemicals of concern is one of my top priorities and this workshop will help our scientists showcase the depth of the research across the federal government.”
“This independent review by the National Academies is an important step to leverage the extensive work ongoing across federal entities and will help determine what further research needs to be conducted in order for us to most effectively continue our PFAS response. As the Chair of DoD’s PFAS Task Force, I will tell you that DoD’s participation in this workshop is part of the Department’s commitment to ensure the health and safety of our men and women in uniform, their families, and the communities in which we serve,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment Jordan Gillis.
“USDA supports measures that foster healthy, viable, and sustainable agricultural farming practices,” said Deputy Under Secretary for USDA’s Research, Education, and Economics Mission Area Dr. Scott Hutchins. “This multi-agency collaboration and coordination is a critical step in finding workable solutions for our nation’s farmers.”
“Similar to other agencies within the federal family, understanding the health effects of exposures to PFAS continues to be a priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR),” said Director of CDC and Administrator of ATSDR Robert R. Redfield, MD. “This virtual workshop with the National Academies is a welcomed opportunity to discuss and contribute to the growing body of knowledge on this topic.”
On October 26-27, the virtual public workshop will convene an independent panel of experts who will review federal agency research on human health implications of PFAS and identify potential research and data gaps. The workshop is free for those who wish to attend via webcast. Those who register will also have the opportunity to submit suggested research needs or data gaps for consideration as input to the workshop.
Following the workshop, NASEM will compile a report summarizing the discussion and views of workshop participants on how to ensure that the federal research program for PFAS is robust and focused on addressing the highest priority human health research.
More information: https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/10-26-2020/workshop-on-federal-government-human-health-pfas-research-2-day-virtual-workshop-october-26-27-2020-board-on-environmental-studies-and-toxicology.
EPA continues to make progress under its PFAS Action Plan to protect the environment and human health, including:
Highlighted Action: Drinking Water
- In February 2020, EPA took an important step in implementing the agency’s PFAS Action Plan by proposing to regulate PFOA and PFOS drinking water.
- EPA also asked for information and data on other PFAS substances, as well as sought comment on potential monitoring requirements and regulatory approaches.
- In December 2019, EPA accomplished a key milestone in the PFAS Action Plan by publishing a new validated method to accurately test for 11 additional PFAS in drinking water. Method 533 complements EPA Method 537.1, and the agency can now measure 29 chemicals.
Highlighted Action: Cleanup
- In December 2019, EPA issued Interim Recommendations for Addressing Groundwater Contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, which provides guidance for federal cleanup programs (e.g., CERCLA and RCRA) that will also be helpful to states and tribes.
- The recommendations provide a starting point for making site-specific cleanup decisions and will help protect drinking water resources in communities across the country.
- In July 2020, EPA submitted the Interim Guidance on the Destruction and Disposal of PFAS and Materials Containing PFAS to OMB for interagency review. The guidance would:
- Provide information on technologies that may be feasible and appropriate for the destruction or disposal of PFAS and PFAS-containing materials.
- Identify ongoing research and development activities related to destruction and disposal technologies, which may inform future guidance.
- EPA is working on the proposed rule to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA. In the absence of the rule, EPA has used its existing authorities to compel cleanups.
Highlighted Action: Monitoring
- In July 2020, EPA transmitted the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5 (UCMR 5) proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for interagency review. EPA anticipates proposing nationwide drinking water monitoring for PFAS that uses new methods that can detect PFAS at lower concentrations than previously possible.
Highlighted Action: Toxics
- In September 2019, EPA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would allow the public to provide input on adding PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory toxic chemical list.
- In June 2020, EPA issued a final regulation that added a list of 172 PFAS chemicals to Toxics Release Inventory reporting as required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
- In July 2020, EPA issued a final regulation that can stop products containing PFAS from entering or reentering the marketplace without EPA’s explicit permission.
Highlighted Action: Scientific Leadership
- EPA continues to compile and assess human and ecological toxicity information on PFAS to support risk management decisions.
- EPA continues to develop new methods to test for additional PFAS in drinking water.
- The agency is also validating analytical methods for surface water, groundwater, wastewater, soils, sediments and biosolids; developing new methods to test for PFAS in air and emissions; and improving laboratory methods to discover unknown PFAS.
- EPA is developing exposure models to understand how PFAS moves through the environment to impact people and ecosystems.
- EPA is working to develop tools to assist officials with the cleanup of contaminated sites.
- In July 2020, EPA added new treatment information for removing PFAS from drinking water.
Highlighted Action: Technical Assistance
- Just as important as the progress on PFAS at the federal level are EPA efforts to form partnerships with states, tribes, and local communities across the country.
- EPA has provided assistance to more than 30 states to help address PFAS, and the agency is continuing to build on this support.
- These joint projects allow EPA to take the knowledge of its world-class scientists and apply it in a collaborative fashion where it counts most.
Highlighted Action: Enforcement
- EPA continues to use enforcement tools, when appropriate, to address PFAS exposure in the environment and assist states in enforcement activities.
- EPA has already taken actions to address PFAS, including issuing Safe Drinking Water Act orders and providing support to states. See examples in the PFAS Action Plan.
- To date, across the nation, EPA has addressed PFAS in 15 cases using a variety of enforcement tools under SDWA, TSCA, RCRA, and CERCLA (where appropriate), and will continue to do so to protect public health and the environment.
Highlighted Action: Grants and Funding
- Under this Administration, EPA’s Office of Research and Development has awarded over $15 million through dozens of grants for PFAS research.
- In May 2019, EPA awarded approximately $3.9 million through two grants for research that will improve the agency’s understanding of human and ecological exposure to PFAS in the environment. This research will also promote a greater awareness of how to restore water quality in PFAS-impacted communities.
- In September 2019, EPA awarded nearly $6 million to fund research by eight organizations to expand the agency’s understanding of the environmental risks posed by PFAS in waste streams and to identify practical approaches to manage potential impacts as PFAS enters the environment.
- In August 2020, EPA awarded $4.8 million in funding for federal research to help identify potential impacts of PFAS to farms, ranches, and rural communities.
Highlighted Action: Risk Communications
- EPA is working collaboratively to develop a risk communication toolbox that includes multimedia materials and messaging for federal, state, tribal, and local partners to use with the public.
Additional information about PFAS can be found at: www.epa.gov/pfas