Chemicals, Special Topics in Environmental Management

EPA Adds New PFAS to Drinking Water Treatability Database

On May 19, 2021, the EPA announced it has added treatment information on 11 new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to its Drinking Water Treatability Database (TDB).

drinking water and PFAS

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“As EPA scientists and researchers evaluate technologies to remove PFAS from drinking water, we believe it’s important to share this information through our Drinking Water Treatability Database,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the EPA Science Advisor. “This is exactly the kind of work that our new EPA Council on PFAS is working to support so that our federal, state, local, and Tribal partners have the information and tools they need to help protect our nation’s drinking water from PFAS and other contaminants.”

The database includes information about possible contaminants in drinking water and various treatment processes to remove them. “This information is supported by scientific references, such as journal articles, conference proceedings, reports and webinars with treatability data.”

The new PFAS added to the database are:

  • Perfluoropentanesulfonic acid (PFPeS)
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonamide (PFHxSA)
  • Perfluorobutylsulfonamide (PFBSA)
  • Perfluoro-4-methoxybutanoic acid (PFMOBA)
  • Perfluoro-3-methoxypropanoic acid (PFMOPrA)
  • Perfluoro-3,5,7,9-butaoxadecanoic acid (PFO4DA)
  • Fluorotelomer sulfonate 4:2 (FtS 4:2)
  • Ammonium 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoate (ADONA)
  • Perfluoro-4-(perfluoroethyl)cyclohexylsulfonate (PFECHS)
  • F-53B: a combination of 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid and 11-Chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid
  • Perfluoro-2-{[perfluoro-3-(perfluoroethoxy)-2-propanyl]oxy}ethanesulfonic acid, also known as Nafion BP2

With the addition of these PFAS, the database now contains treatment information on 37 PFAS, including Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

“Researchers have also added 38 new scientific references to the existing PFAS entries, which increases the depth of scientific knowledge available in the database,” according to the EPA.

The TDB contains information on many types of contaminants beyond PFAS. “It was designed for use by utilities, first responders to spills or emergencies, regulatory agencies, consultants and technical assistance providers, treatment process designers, and researchers,” according to the EPA TBD website. “The TDB includes chemical, microbial, and radiological contaminants that are regulated in drinking water, on the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), of water security interest, of pesticide registration interest, and endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals. Because control strategies for disinfection byproducts (DBPs) are different than contaminants present in source waters, DBPs are not included in the TDB. Information on contaminants includes parameters, such as solubility, vapor pressure, Henry’s Law constant; microbial parameters, such as size and shape; and fate and transport parameters that may be useful in assessing the contaminant’s presence in source waters.

“The number of drinking water treatment processes in the TDB is extensive and includes those most commonly employed and those less commonly employed but known to be effective. Information upon which the treatment process effectiveness depends is provided and includes key process and water quality parameters and the contaminant’s importance.”

Background on Recent PFAS Action

On April 21, 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan called for the creation of a new “EPA Council on PFAS” and charged the Council with:

  • Developing “PFAS 2021-2025 – Safeguarding America’s Waters, Air and Land,” a multiyear strategy to deliver critical public health protections to the American public;
  • Prioritizing partnerships and collaboration within the EPA and with federal, state, tribal, and local partners; and
  • Continuing to engage with the public about the risk associated with these chemicals.