21 April 2020

New Jersey Approves Drinking Water Standards for Two PFAS

On March 31, 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sent its proposed rule setting maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) to the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL). Once the OAL completes its review, it will publish a final rule. Once the final rule is published in the New Jersey Register, it will set enforceable drinking water standards at levels of 0.014 micrograms per liter (µg/l) for PFOA and 0.013 µg/l for PFOS. Both standards are more stringent than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) non-enforceable health advisory of 0.07 parts per billion for the two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) individually or combined. The MCLs will apply to public water systems and will require testing of private wells subject to sale or lease and newly constructed wells. The same two levels will apply for ground water quality standards. The two PFAS will also join the state’s List of Hazardous Substances. The new restrictions on PFOA and PFOS join the MCL for another PFAS, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), for which New Jersey set limits in September 2018.

Given the increased scrutiny on PFAS, other states could follow New Jersey’s example. Meanwhile, at the federal level, the EPA is accepting comments until May 11, 2020, regarding its preliminary determination to regulate PFOS and PFOA under the Safe Drinking Water Act.