Just Short of a Rule: Washington State’s Recommendations on PFAS Cleanup Levels

The Washington State Office of Ecology (Ecology) lately released a focus sheet that provides Ecology’s proposed soil and groundwater cleanup concentrations for a group of chemical compounds regarded as for each- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This is the newest move by Ecology to require cleanup of PFAS at contaminated sites. With this action, Washington results in being 1 of the first to attempt to involve these chemical compounds throughout cleanup steps.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS are a group of human-built chemical compounds discovered by signature elemental bonds of fluorine and carbon, which are exceptionally solid and complicated to crack down in the ecosystem. As a final result, PFAS are persistent and can stand up to higher temperatures and highly corrosive environments. Even though PFAS involve the usually known and used perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and GenX, Ecology’s focus sheet will regulate 6 total PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), and GenX.

PFAS have been created and applied in a range of industries about the globe, together with the United States due to the fact the 1940s. Simply because of their capability to repel h2o and oil, PFAS are made use of in several distinct styles of items, including firefighting foam recognized as aqueous movie forming foam (AFFF), stain-resistant carpets, roofing supplies, coatings, food packaging, water-resistant out of doors outfits and gear, nonstick cookware, and boots, between others.

The Model Toxics Control Act and the Regulation of Contaminated Sites

The Product Toxics Handle Act, RCW 70A.305 (MTCA) is Washington’s environmental cleanup regulation. MTCA governs the cleanup and avoidance of contaminated websites in Washington. MTCA’s Cleanup Laws, WAC 173-340 utilize to all contaminated internet sites, no matter if they contain contamination on land or in groundwater, or contaminated sediment in freshwater or marine environments.

MTCA defines a two-phase tactic for creating specifications for cleaning up contaminated web sites. Initially, Ecology will build cleanup standards that deliver a uniform, statewide method to cleanup. These specifications have two main elements: (1) cleanup levels that ascertain the concentration at which a hazardous material that remains in soil or groundwater no extended threatens human well being or the environments, and (2) level of compliance where by cleanup levels will have to be satisfied. 2nd, an entity have to appraise choices for cleansing up a site, and then decide which possibility would greatest reach cleanup standards.

Suggested Cleanup Levels for PFAS

In its July 2022 Site Sign-up, Ecology mentioned that it is at present functioning on PFAS steering to give course on investigating and cleaning up PFAS. The company anticipates releasing that direction for community evaluate and comment afterwards this calendar year. But as an alternative of waiting around to publish that advice and acquire general public comment, Ecology launched a nonbinding PFAS emphasis sheet that presents “recommended” cleanup levels for the 6 formerly discussed PFAS. These closely abide by the Washington State Section of Health and fitness State Motion Ranges (SAL) for groundwater that has PFAS. Ecology endorses using the SALs as the appropriate groundwater cleanup ranges for PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and PFBS. For the sixth PFAS without the need of a SAL, (GenX), Ecology endorses using the peer-reviewed non-most cancers reference doses (RfDs) developed by the U.S. Environmental Defense Company (EPA) to determine the appropriate cleanup degree. This information and facts is included in Desk 1 beneath:

Table 1: Encouraged groundwater cleanup degrees

PFAS compound

Advised groundwater cleanup level

EPA heath advisory amount
PFOA 10 ng/L .004 ng/L
PFOS 15 ng/L .02 ng/L
PFNA 9 ng/L None
PFHxS 65 ng/L None
PFBS 345 ng/L 2,000 ng/L
 HFPO-DA (GenX) 24 ng/L 10 ng/L

Ecology also developed suggested soil cleanup stages that are protecting of groundwater for the same six PFAS compounds. This information is incorporated in Table 2 beneath:

Table 2: Encouraged soil cleanup stages protecting of groundwater

PFAS compound Vadose zone Saturated zone
PFOA 6.3E-05 mg/kg 4.0E-06 mg/kg
PFOS 1.7E-04 mg/kg 9.9E-06 mg/kg
 PFNA 8.0E-05 mg/kg 4.8E-06 mg/kg
 PFHxS 4.1E-04 mg/kg 2.6E-05 mg/kg
 PFBS 1.8E-03 mg/kg 1.2E-04 mg/kg
 HFPO-DA (GenX) 1.0E-04 mg/kg 7.2E-06 mg/kg

Summary

Under MTCA, cleanup degrees ought to comply with relevant area, point out, and federal laws, together with necessities Ecology has determined to be “relevant and appropriate” WAC 173-340-710(4). As of June 2022, there are no legally relevant condition or federal rules to use when establishing PFAS cleanup amounts, but dependent on its concentration sheet, Ecology is “recommending” PFAS cleanup concentrations which implies the proposed PFAS cleanup levels are very likely to be deemed “relevant and appropriate” at cleanup internet sites overseen by Ecology, and potentially all MTCA sites. Of course, until eventually Ecology tends to make a internet site-specific dedication, the soil and groundwater cleanup degrees Ecology has suggested are deemed preliminary cleanup amounts. But entities dependable for ongoing or planned cleanups in Washington should take into account how these tips will affect the timing and expense of their cleanups going ahead. So, as well, ought to entities who have presently completed cleanups in Washington think about regardless of whether they may want to revisit these cleanups (less than reopener clauses in cleanup agreements or normally). Also, all potentially influenced functions should really consider commenting on whatever steerage Ecology ultimately publishes on this matter.

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