On October 18th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its "Strategic Roadmap" for the contaminant class of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The roadmap is an important recognition that both the agency and regulated community must address many PFAS issues on multiple fronts.  It builds on the EPA's 2019 PFAS Action Plan and lays out the agency's approach through 2024 to address PFAS. 

EPA's roadmap calls for regulatory and non-regulatory actions including:

  • setting enforceable drinking water limits;
  • formally designating certain compounds, likely PFOA and PFOS, as Hazardous Substances under CERCLA (aka Superfund);
  • limiting or banning future uses;
  • instituting measures to prevent new releases;
  • developing a better understanding of effects on human health and the environment through research and data collection;
  • expanding research into treatment technologies; and
  • broadening cleanup efforts/requirements and responsible party funding for same.

EPA's plan, while needed, is ambitious. EPA must strategically gather input from all stakeholders, and especially the regulated community, such that solutions are grounded in practical science and account for the many unknowns about PFAS and the economic impacts of the EPA's proposed actions.  The many unknowns include or relate to:  what "true" background levels are; developing proper and verifiable field sampling and lab analytical methods/procedures and field/lab equipment to address a variety of environmental media and prevent cross-contamination and false positives; better understanding the risks that matter to human health and our ecological systems; and how to appropriately capture the thousands of diverse PFAS chemicals in the regulatory scheme (because not all PFAS are created equal). 

With the federal overlap, and the ever evolving - and often inconsistent - patchwork of state programs, whether a company knowingly made, used or released PFAS requires immediate C-Suite consideration in many business sectors - real estate, financing/lending, manufacturing and corporate M&A.  This is especially critical for companies with assets and/or potential liabilities in multiple jurisdictions.

We advise companies across many industry sectors (and in numerous states) to develop risk management plans to track developments in the rapidly evolving PFAS legal and technical landscape; evaluate the risks/liabilities associated with past/current/future operations; evaluate non-PFAS alternative products; and, deploy coordinated legal and technical strategies to manage potential liabilities and impacts to future business transactions.  Our environmental team is always ready to discuss your PFAS-related needs.  Please reach out with questions. 

Links to EPA's PFAS Roadmap resources are below:

For more background information on PFAS, please see our prior client alerts below:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.