Although much of the world’s focus has been consumed by the global pandemic, six states have issued important regulations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”), which are expected to have significant impacts on businesses in those states. Specifically, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont have enacted Maximum Contaminant Levels (“MCLs”) for certain PFAS substances, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (“PFOS”) and perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) in drinking water.
In addition, Michigan and New Jersey have established groundwater quality standards for certain PFAS compounds, which means that there is now a reference standard for groundwater investigation and cleanup actions, as well as guidelines for entities conducting due diligence for real estate acquisitions.
What are the Drinking Water Standards?
|PFAS Compound||Massachusetts1||Michigan2||New Hampshire3||New Jersey4||New York5||Vermont6|
|PFOS||3.3 ng/L*||16 ng/L||15 ppt||13 ppt||10 ppt||4 ng/L*|
|PFOA||3.3 ng/L*||8 ng/L||12 ppt||14 ppt||10 ppt||4 ng/L*|
|Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)||3.3 ng/L*||6 ng/L||11 ppt||13 ppt||N/A||4 ng/L*|
|Perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)||3.3 ng/L*||51 ng/L||18 ppt||N/A||N/A||4 ng/L*|
|Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA)||N/A||370 ng/L||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS)||N/A||420 ng/L||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA)||N/A||400,000 ng/L||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA)||3.3 ng/L*||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||4 ng/L*|
|Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)||3.3 ng/L*||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
— Scroll to see full table data
*In Massachusetts and Vermont, the MCL cannot exceed 20 ng/L, combined, for all of the PFAS substances regulated by each state.
What is an MCL and How Does it Impact Businesses?
MCLs set the maximum concentration of a given contaminant that can be present in drinking water. Publicly owned treatment works (“POTWs”) and drinking water systems are required to ensure that drinking water distributed to the public meets these limits. In order to do that, POTWs and state agencies often include discharge limits in the permits of upstream dischargers to ensure that the treatment facility can comply with the MCL.
Businesses in these states that currently or historically have used PFAS compounds or have reason to believe that they may be present in their wastewater effluent should evaluate: (1) whether they discharge any substances to water that are eventually used for drinking water; and (2) whether their discharge contains any of the regulated PFAS compounds. Having that information will allow those businesses to determine whether to modify their operations to reduce or eliminate PFAS from their waste stream in anticipation of permit conditions…