Last month, the EPA issued the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) to establish nationwide monitoring for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates the EPA to monitor for unregulated contaminants in drinking water every 5 years. Under the UCMR 5, public water systems will collect data on 29 PFAS over a 12-month period from 2023 through 2025 with a report of final results in 2026. The UCMR 5 testing requirement will apply to public water systems serving over 10,000 people; all systems serving 3,300-10,000 people, subject to funding availability; and a representative sample of systems serving fewer than 3,300 people.
EPA uses the data collected to understand whether contaminants are present in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels. This is not the first time that public water systems have tested for PFAS. In 2012, the EPA issued UCMR 3 which tested drinking water for six types of PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS. As a result of that testing, the EPA decided to establish drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS, however that process has not been finalized and PFAS and lithium are currently not subject to national drinking water regulations. Notably, EPA will use a lower minimum reporting level for UCMR 5 than was used in UCMR 3, which could show increased prevalence of PFAS and for a wider range of PFAS. Data from UCMR 5 will provide the EPA with a snapshot of the presence of PFAS in drinking water, which may lead to future regulations for those currently unregulated PFAS.
Testing also comes amidst scientific review of EPA's updated risk assessment for certain PFAS, in which EPA concluded adverse health affects may occur at lower levels than it previously believed. EPA’s risk assessment levels are used to set national drinking standards.
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Arielle McPherson is an associate who focuses her practice on environmental, product liability and tort litigation. She is involved in all phases of litigation, including discovery, depositions, dispositive and pre-trial ...
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Lathrop GPM has deep experience developing regulatory strategy and defending litigation in the area of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and we have been involved in some of the nation’s most-publicized cases. The PFAS Playbook blog is dedicated to helping readers stay up to date and understand the latest regulatory updates on PFAS.