August 28, 2017 Articles

Emerging Trends in Perfluorinated Chemical Regulation and Litigation

Inaction by the federal government and some state regulators should not be misinterpreted to mean that the current federal guideline is sufficiently protective.

By Allan Kanner – August 28, 2017

Under the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 300f et seq., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required periodically to generate a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by public water systems. 40 C.F.R. § 141.40. Each iteration of this list is known as the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (UCMR). UCMR 3 was published on May 2, 2012, and required the monitoring of 30 contaminants between 2013 and 2015. The list includes six perfluorinated compounds (PFC), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfanate (PFOS). Currently, the EPA’s minimum reporting requirements for PFOA and PFOS, considered to be indicator chemicals for the presence of other PFCs, are 0.04 µg/L and 0.02 µg/L, respectively, and the combined lifetime exposure limit is 70 ppt.

Two developments of note have occurred in conjunction with increased awareness of the dangers of PFCs: state guidelines and personal injury litigation. States have begun to take their own close looks at PFCs and their possible effects on the states’ drinking water supplies, implementing guidelines more stringent than the EPA regulations. At the same time, personal injury class actions have revolved around manufacturers’ failure to properly dispose of PFOA and similar PFCs.

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