Posted by Johann Nacario — January 12, 2023 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new interactive webpage, called “PFAS Analytic Tools,” which provides information about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across the country. EPA proposed designating PFOA and PFOS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances in August 2022.
This information will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities. The PFAS Analytic Tools bring together multiple sources of information in one spot with mapping, charting, and filtering functions, allowing the public to see where testing has been done and what level of detections were measured.
EPA’s PFAS Analytic Tools draws from multiple national databases and reports to consolidate information in one webpage in order to help communities gain a better understanding of local PFAS sources. The webpage includes information on:
- Clean Water Act PFAS discharges from permitted sources;
- Reported spills containing PFAS constituents;
- Facilities historically manufacturing or importing PFAS;
- Federally owned locations where PFAS is being investigated;
- Transfers of PFAS-containing waste;
- PFAS detection in natural resources such as fish or surface water; and
- Drinking water testing results.
The tools cover a broad list of PFASs and represent EPA’s ongoing efforts to provide the public with access to the growing amount of testing information that is available.
Because the regulatory framework for PFAS chemicals is emerging, 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, 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, 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 the availability of the data in the future, EPA 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. Beginning in 2023, this expansion will bring the number of drinking water PFAS samples collected by regulatory agencies into the millions.
EPA also significantly expanded the Toxics Release Inventory reporting requirements in recent years to over 175 PFAS substances — and more information should be received in 2023.
EPA’s proposal to designate PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances would also improve data on spill or release incidents reported to the Emergency Response Notification System.
These reporting enhancements will be incorporated into future versions of the interactive webpage. EPA says it will continue working toward the expansion of data sets in the PFAS Analytic Tools as a way to improve collective knowledge about PFAS occurrence in the environment.
See also: “PFAS 101: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Forever Chemicals’” on EcoWatch for an explanation about PFAS chemicals.