What Do New PFAS Regulations Mean For Prospective Property Purchasers, Landowners, and Manufacturers?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are chemicals used extensively in industry because they are resistant to heat, water, and oil. The PFAS chemicals include PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many others. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries, including (but not limited to) commonly used products such as carpeting, clothing, upholstery, food paper wrappings, fire-fighting foams and metal plating. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals don’t break down and they can accumulate over time in the human body and the environment. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects (EPA.gov).
On February 14, 2019, the profile of the PFAS chemicals was significantly raised when the EPA announced that they are moving forward with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) process for PFOA and PFOS and that they gathering and evaluating information to determine if regulation is appropriate for a broader class of PFAS.
What you need to know as a prospective property purchaser:
“All appropriate inquiries” is a process of evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination. All appropriate inquiries must be conducted to obtain certain protections from liability under the federal Superfund Law (CERCLA; EPA.gov). Any person or entity considering purchase of a property should conduct an investigation of the potential presence of contamination in soil, soil vapor, and groundwater at site that is under consideration for purchase.
What steps a prospective purchaser should take:
Protection from liability under CERCLA is generally achieved by prospective property purchasers by contracting an environmental consultant to conduct a “Phase I” site assessment of the property under consideration. This is frequently required by the lender, if a lender is involved in the transaction. As announced in the February 14 release, the EPA will begin the regulatory development process of listing PFOA & PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA which would help states and local water utilities recover costs from potentially responsible parties (PRPs), which could be you, the purchaser of a property with PFOA and/or PFOS contamination. Any prospective purchaser should make sure that their consultant includes PFOA and PFOS in their Phase I site investigation, and that careful consideration be given to current and future environmental liabilities from the presence of these and other chemicals being present on a site.
What do new PFAS regulations mean for property owners or facility operators?
Although enforcement actions are already either under way or in place for PFOS or PFOA contamination in at least eight different cases, listing these chemicals as hazardous substances under CERCLA will help states and local water utilities recover costs from PRPs, which could be your facility or operation. The EPA states that the PFOS and PFOA contamination found in groundwater is typically localized and associated with a specific facility (examples provided include manufacturers, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, or firefighter training facility).
Alta Environmental can assess your risks, develop management plans, as well as, help industry professionals evaluate the potential that their facilities could in the future be asked by states or water utilities to contribute to the cleanup of PFOS and PFOA in groundwater. Please contact us at to obtain a Phase I investigation, strategies for risk reduction, and discuss research and planning assistance for the defense of future claims. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 562-777-0605.