PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manufactured chemicals that are found in many everyday products, including nonstick pans, cleaning products, paints, and firefighting foam. PFAS are present in the bloodstream of 98 percent of Americans. Competing studies debate whether or not PFAS have negative health effects, and, if they do, at what level they are harmful. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has declined to regulate PFAS in drinking water. Meanwhile, some states are choosing to implement regulations independently. Hamilton Consulting closely monitors regulatory developments related to PFAS both at the state and federal level. Click on the links below for more information on PFAS regulations.
Legislation: Several bills addressing PFAS are circulating in the Wisconsin Legislature.
SB 109/AB 85 Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) & Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay)
The bill requires the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish state health-based groundwater quality standards for two types of PFAS: PFOA and PFOS. DHS would have to establish the new standards within 90 days of the enactment of the bill. The Assembly Committee on Environment held a public hearing on the bill on April 4.
LRB 3306 Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) & Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay)
The bill would prohibit the use of fire fighting foams that contain intentionally added PFAS in training, unless the testing facility has appropriate containment and treatment measures (as determined by Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rule).
LRB 2297 Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Rep. Stausch Gruszynski (D-Green Bay) & Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison)
The bill would require DNR to establish and enforce PFAS standards by rule for drinking water, groundwater, surface water, air, solid waste, beds of navigable waters, and soil and sediment if DNR deems it harmful to human health or the environment. The bill also provides that DNR may require entities possessing PFAS to provide proof of financial responsibility for remediation of potential discharge. Additionally, the bill requires any facility under investigation by DNR to provide DNR with access to information related to transportation of hazardous waste to any other site. The bill provides 7.5 positions at DNR and 2 positions at DHS, plus $150,000 for identifying and prioritizing PFAS sources, $50,000 for a study on use of fire fighting foam containing PFAS, $87,000 for testing landfills and leachate, and $120,000 for investigation of PFAS sources and providing drinking water.
Budget: JFC approved two positions for PFAS and other emerging contaminants research. The committee also approved the governor’s recommendation for $150,000 GPR to develop a model to identify and prioritize sites with likely PFAS contamination and $50,000 to conduct a survey on emergency response use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.
Regulatory: DHS has announced a recommended groundwater standard of 20 ppt combined for PFOA and PFOS. The recommendation now must go through the DNR rulemaking process before it is enforceable. DHS also recommends that the NR140 Groundwater Quality Public Health Preventive Action Limit for PFOA and PFOS be set at 10% of the enforcement standard “because PFOA and PFOS have been shown to have carcinogenic, teratogenic, and interactive effects.” The DHS guidance documents for PFOA and PFOS are open for public comment until July 9, 2019.
DNR is also convening a PFAS technical advisory group, meeting on a quarterly basis starting in February 2019.
DHS and DNR Release Strict PFAS Groundwater Standard June 26, 2019
Legislators Circulate Bills Addressing PFAS May 31, 2019
Water Quality Task Force Discusses Agriculture & Groundwater April 5, 2019
Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality Meets to Hear Agency Testimony March 22, 2019
DNR, citing PFAS, scales back Voluntary Liability Exemption Program January 29, 2019
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released draft preliminary guidelines for PFOA and PFOS. The interim recommendations follow EPA’s PFAS Action Plan announced earlier this year.
In Congress, the issue of PFAS is working its way through committees in various capacities.
House Oversight Committee Subcommittee on Environment hearing March 6, 2019. The committee heard testimony from U.S. Reps Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), EPA assistant administrator for the Office of Water Dave Ross, and Department of Defense deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Environment Maureen Sullivan.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing May 15, 2019.
Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works hearing March 28, 2019. The committee took up six PFAS-related bills on May 22.