PFAS Regulatory Roadmap: Current Status and Background

Greg Cavallo Breaks It Down for You


EPA released its per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Strategic Roadmap on October 18th 2021. Subsequent memos further refining the approaches presented by EPA were issued on April 28th and December 5th 2022. A summary of the selected issues and their proposed or existing time frames for their completion is presented below. References are provided when available. This document represents a snapshot in time of EPA’s strategy and will be updated on an as needed basis.

On October 18, 2021, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap1—laying out a whole-of-agency approach to addressing PFAS. For a complete listing of approaches and initiatives please review the initial PFAS Strategic Roadmap document presented by EPA.

Selected Key initiatives and Status:

  • Establish a national primary drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS(EPA Proposed MCLs for 6 PFAS, March 14, 2023) 12
  • Restrict PFAS discharges from industrial sources through Effluent Limits Guidelines program (Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15, January 2023) 10a.
  • Selected targeted industries: Landfills, POTW influent to POTW from Significant Industrial Users (SIUs).
  • Leverage NPDES permitting to reduce PFAS discharges to waterways (EPA issued guidance advising states how to use NPDES permit requirements to restrict the discharge of PFAS at their source through monitoring requirements and BMPs, December 2022)11
  • Propose designating certain PFAS as CERCLA hazardous substances (EPA proposes to designate two PFAS chemicals PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, August 2022)9
  • Publish health advisories for GenX and PFBS (Issued Final Health Advisory, June 2022)7
  • Publish interim updated national drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS (Released Interim Health Advisory, June 2022)8
  • Publish final recommended ambient water quality criteria for PFAS (Released Draft Ambient Aquatic life criteria for PFOA and PFOS, April 2022)6
  • Publish national PFAS testing strategy (October 2021)3
    • Undertake nationwide monitoring for PFAS in drinking water (EPA finalized Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) for 29 PFAS, December 2021)4
    • Enhance reporting of PFAS in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program (For the reporting year 2022, 180 PFAS are included in the TRI list, December 2022)5
    • Assemble Existing Toxicity Data (Ongoing)
  • Published the final toxicity assessment for GenX and five additional PFAS (Issued Final Toxics Assessment for GenX, October 2021)10
  • Publish multi-laboratory validated analytical method for 40 PFAS (EPA Single lab validation draft method 1633, August 2021)2
  • Monitor fish tissue for PFAS from the nation’s lakes and evaluate human biomarkers for PFAS (Under development)
  • Finalize list of PFAS for use in fish advisory programs (Expected Spring 2023)
  • Finalize risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids (Expected Winter 2024)

The PFAS strategic road map initiative was further refined in EPA’s memo on April 28, 2022 “Addressing PFAS Discharges in EPA-Issued NPDES Permits and Expectations Where EPA is the Pretreatment Control Authority” issued by Radhika Fox assistant administrator of EPA

  • EPA will use the NPDES program to restrict PFAS discharges from Industrial users to water bodies
    • These include facilities which produce or discharge organic chemicals, plastics & synthetic fibers (OCPSF); metal finishing; electroplating; electric and electronic components; landfills; pulp, paper & paperboard; leather tanning & finishing; plastics molding & forming; textile mills; paint formulating, and airports.
  • Effluent monitoring will be conducted using draft method 1633 with a monitoring frequency of at least four times a year
  • Best management practices (BMPs) will be implemented to reduce PFAS loadings
  • Where EPA issued permits to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) monitoring of effluent, influent and biosolids will be required using method 1633.
  • Industrial users (IUs) who discharged the POTW’s will be required to evaluate their discharge for PFAS.
  • The data collected will inform the agency’s Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) actions.

The most recent EPA memo regarding PFAS discharges was issued by Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator of EPA (December 5, 2022), entitled “Addressing PFAS Discharges in NPDES Permits and Through the Pretreatment Program and Monitoring Programs”. “This memorandum provides EPA’s guidance to states and updates the April 28, 2022, guidance to EPA Regions for addressing PFAS discharges when they are authorized to administer the NPDES permitting program and/or pretreatment program.”

  • The list of dischargers identified in the April 28, 2022, memo for known or suspected dischargers is not an exhaustive list and may be expanded. “For example, Centralized Waste Treatment (CWT) facilities may receive waste from the aforementioned industries and should be considered for monitoring. There may also be categories of dischargers that do not meet the applicability criteria of any existing ELG; for instance, remediation sites, chemical manufacturing not covered by OCPSF, and military bases.”
  • EPA reiterates the inclusion of monitoring for PFAS in NPDES permit using method 1633.
  • EPA recommends that NPDES permits for industrial and publicly owned treatment work (POTWs) include BMP’s for PFAS
  • EPA recommends that permit limits for PFAS be imposed and NPDES permits be based on site specific technology-based effluent limits developed by professional judgment, or a water quality based effluent limit derived from a state water quality standard.


1 EPA October 2021, PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action, viewed 21 January 2023.

2 EPA August 2021, Draft Method 1633 Analysis of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Aqueous, Solid, Biosolids, and Tissue Samples by LC-MS/MS, viewed 21 January 2023.

3 EPA October 2021, National PFAS Testing Strategy: Identification of Candidate Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) for Testing, viewed 21 January 2023.

4 EPA December 2021, Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, viewed 21 January 2023.,by%20EPA%20and%20consensus%20organizations

5 EPA December 2022, EPA Proposes Rule to Enhance Reporting of PFAS Data to the Toxics Release Inventory, viewed 21 January 2023.

6 EPA April 2022, Fact Sheet: Draft 2022 Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS), viewed 21 January 2023.

7 EPA June 2022, Drinking Water Health Advisories for GenX Chemicals and PFBS, viewed 21 January 2023.,its%20potassium%20salt%20(PFBS)

8 EPA June 2022, Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS, 2022 Interim Updated PFOA and PFOS Health Advisories, viewed 21 January 2023. 

9 EPA August 2022, EPA Proposes Designating Certain PFAS Chemicals as Hazardous Substances Under Superfund, viewed 21 January 2023.

10 EPA October 2021, Human Health Toxicity Assessments for GenX Chemicals, viewed 21 January 2023.

10a EPA January 2023 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 viewed 28 February 2023.

11 EPA December 2022, Addressing PFAS Discharges in NPDES Permits and Through the Pretreatment Program and Monitoring Programs, viewed 21 January 2023. 12/NPDES_PFAS_State%20Memo_December_2022.pdf

12 EPA March 2023 Proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation viewed March 16, 2023.

About the Author: Greg Cavallo has more than 25 years of diversified experience in the environmental field with a focus on environmental chemistry. He specializes in the interpretation and management of organic and inorganic chemical analysis data and the development and implementation of field procedures for the collection of sediment, surface water, and fish tissue samples. He has developed Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for various studies including those in tributaries and estuaries.

Greg has extensive experience with US EPA organic and inorganic analytical methodologies, and has worked closely with chemists in industry and government in developing project-specific modifications to EPA method 1668 Rev A for the characterization of PCBs.

He has developed data management procedures for the reporting, storage, and efficient retrieval of field and analytical data and he has worked closely with laboratories, chemists, regulators, and the regulated community to develop protocols for electronic delivery of data to facilitate database management.

Because of his significant experience and expertise, he has been invited to speak on analytical chemistry and its use in trackdown studies for the identification of PCBs source at many venues including the Spokane River Regional Toxics Task Force, Annual Pennsylvania Industrial and Pretreatment Conference and Baltimore Region Toxics Workshop.

Greg serves on the Board of WRA, and as a member of the Executive Committee.

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