EPA launches PFAS Analytic Tool

The agency says the tool will provide information on PFAS sources across the U.S.

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The United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a tool that provides analytics and information on pre- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. The interactive webpage, called the “PFAS Analytic Tools,” provides information to help the public, researchers and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities.   

The EPA says the PFAS Analytic Tools uses multiple sources of information for mapping, charting and filtering functions, allowing the public to see where testing has been done and what level of detection was measured.   

“The EPA’s PFAS Analytic Tools webpage brings together for the first-time data from multiple sources in an easy-to-use format,” says John Dombrowski, director of the EPA’s Office of Compliance. “This webpage will help communities gain a better understanding of local PFAS sources.”   

The tools draw from multiple national databases and reports to consolidate information on one webpage. The tools include information on Clean Water Act PFAS discharges from permitted sources, reported spills containing PFAS constituents, facilities historically manufacturing or importing PFAS and more. The tools cover a broad list of PFAS and represent EPA’s ongoing efforts to provide the public with access to the growing amount of testing information available.   

Because the regulatory framework for PFAS chemicals is emerging, the EPA says data users should pay close attention to the caveats found within the site so that the completeness of the data sets is fully understood. Rather than wait for complete national data to be available, the EPA is publishing what is currently available while information continues to fill in. Users should be aware that some of the datasets are complete at the national level whereas others are not.   

For example, EPA has included a national inventory for drinking water testing at larger public water utilities. That information was provided between 2013-2016. To include more recent data, the EPA also compiled other drinking water datasets that are available online in select states. For the subset of states and tribes publishing PFAS testing results in drinking water, the percentage of public water supplies tested varied significantly from state to state. Because of the differences in testing and reporting across the country, the data should not be used for comparisons across cities, counties or states.   

To improve data availability in the future, the EPA says it has published its fifth Safe Drinking Water Act Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule to expand on the initial drinking water data reporting that was conducted in 2013-2016. This expansion will bring the number of drinking water PFAS samples collected by regulatory agencies into the millions.  

The EPA says it also significantly expanded the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting requirements in recent years to more than 175 PFAS substances. Additionally, the agency’s proposal to designate Perfluorooctanoic acid and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid as Hazardous Substances would also improve data on spill or release incidents reported to the Emergency Response Notification System. These enhancements will be used in future versions of the interactive webpage. EPA will continue toward expanding data sets in the PFAS Analytic Tools to improve collective knowledge about PFAS occurrence in the environment.  

The agency also proposed a rule in December 2022 to enhance PFAS reporting to TRI by eliminating an exemption that allows facilities to avoid including information on PFAS when those chemicals are used in small concentrations. Because PFAS is used at low concentrations in many products, this rule would ensure covered industry sectors and federal facilities that make or use TRI-listed PFAS will no longer be able to rely on the exemption to avoid disclosing their PFAS releases and other waste management quantities for these chemicals. 

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