PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Announces Public Comment Period on New PFAS Drinking Water Regulation

Public waterImage via Pixabay

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a 60-day public comment period that begins Saturday, February 26, 2022, on a new regulation to protect Pennsylvanians’ drinking water from PFAS chemicals.

The comment period concerns a proposed rule to set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) in drinking water for two forms of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – to protect the public from potential adverse developmental and immune system effects linked to exposure to PFOA and PFOS. The comment period will begin Saturday, February 26, 2022, and close Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

“Since Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order in 2018, DEP has worked tirelessly to protect Pennsylvanians from these chemicals. This public comment period allows stakeholders to share their feedback and concerns as we continue to put the safety and health of Pennsylvanians first,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

The proposed rule would set an MCL of 14 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and an MCL of 18 ppt for PFOS, which are stricter limits compared to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA combined.

This proposed rulemaking represents an unprecedented step of setting a Pennsylvania-specific MCL for drinking water. In June 2021, DEP’s final results from sampling public water systems for PFAS were released (statewide sampling began in July 2019). Due to these efforts, Pennsylvania is at the forefront of states taking proactive steps to address PFAS. More information on Pennsylvania’s efforts to address PFAS can be found at this webpage: www.dep.pa.gov/PFAS.

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PFAS are a class of synthetic chemicals used since the 1940s to make water, heat, and stain-resistant products such as cookware, carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper packaging for food, and other resistant materials. These chemicals are persistent in the human body and throughout the environment. PFAS have been associated with adverse health effects but are classified by scientists as emerging chemicals because the risks they pose to human health and the environment are not completely understood.

When the comment period opens, comments may be submitted to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) through DEP’s eComment system at http://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment. Comments may also be submitted via e-mail at [email protected]. Each comment must include a subject heading of the proposed rulemaking and the name and address of the person submitting the comment. Written comments may be mailed to the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.

The EQB will also hold five virtual public hearings on the proposed rulemaking during the week of March 21, 2022. The public hearings will be held via Webex at the following dates and times:

  • Monday, March 21, 2022, at 1:00 PM
  • Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 24, 2022, at 9:00 AM
  • Friday, March 25, 2022, at 9:00 AM

Information on how to participate in the hearings will be posted on the EQB’s webpage found through the Public Participation tab on DEP’s website at www.dep.pa.gov (select “Public Participation,” then “Environmental Quality Board”). Persons who want to present testimony at one of the hearings must contact Jennifer Swan at (717) 783-8727 or [email protected] by 5:00 PM on Friday, March 18, 2022, to reserve a time to present testimony.

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