Legislative Prospectus: PFAS
December 29, 2021
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals used in products such as nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stainresistant fabrics, cosmetics, and firefighting foam.
These chemicals can migrate into soil, water, and air during production and use, with most remaining in the environment without breaking down. PFAS can accumulate in the blood of people and animals over time from exposure to contaminated environmental media (e.g., water, soil) and consumer products (e.g., food packaged in containers made with PFAS).
There is evidence that exposure to PFAS may cause harmful health effects, such as decreased vaccine response in children, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, and increased cholesterol levels.
EPA released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap in October 2021, outlining the federal plan to further research, restrict, and remediate environmental contamination by 2024. Under this plan, the federal government:
- Published a national PFAS testing strategy in October 2021.
- Will review current agency policies relating to PFAS.
- Improve identifying and tracking which PFAS are released into the environment.
- Publish a national primary drinking water regulation for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), among other actions and initiatives.
The plan calls for every level of government—including states and territories—to accelerate efforts to understand the effects of PFAS, clean up existing PFAS contamination, and prevent new contamination. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021, invests $10 billion to help communities test for and clean up PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water and wastewater.