EPA to support states in addressing PFAS
On July 28, the U.S. EPA announced the progress it has made in aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at the national level as it implements the PFAS Action Plan. EPA Region 4 has formed partnerships with states, tribes and local communities to address local PFAS challenges across the Southeast, including Georgia.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, facilities using PFAS in production of other products, airports, and military installations are some of the contributors of PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. There is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.
The EPA provides technical assistance to states to detect and remove PFAS in drinking water. This includes assisting the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina in addressing instances of elevated levels of PFAS found in some drinking water systems and/or private wells. EPA has assisted several states and local water departments in evaluating drinking water treatment options, including Summerville Public Works and Utilities in Georgia and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in North Carolina.
In addition, EPA has invested $984,000 in Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) supplemental grants across the eight Southeastern states and one tribal organization to support drinking water protection efforts related to PFAS and other emerging contaminants. Projects range from sampling freshwater sources and drinking water systems, especially those near known or suspected sources of PFAS, to purchasing equipment. This includes sampling of 114 drinking water systems in Georgia for PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
EPA Region 4’s laboratory, based in Athens, routinely helps states – including Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina – in collecting and analyzing PFAS samples. Further, regional laboratory staff are working with experts throughout the agency to develop better ways to test for PFAS in water samples. This work is a priority for EPA and the team is on track to make a new method, EPA Method 8327, available to utilities, labs and the public by Sept. 30, 2020.
Besides EPA Region 4’s extensive work to address PFAS in drinking water, the region also works with state and federal partners to investigate and address areas with suspected PFAS contamination across the Southeast.