EPA Provides Update on PFAS Analytical Methods

(July 30, 2020) – In a webinar on July 23, EPA staff from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) provided a progress update on developing analytical methods for PFAS. The update touched on the status of methodologies currently used or being developed for drinking water, non-drinking water (groundwater, surface water, and wastewater), marine waters, and fish tissue.

NACWA has emphasized serious concerns over the last two years with states seeking to establish stringent Clean Water Act limits for PFAS without an EPA-approved methodology. Last August, EPA proposed a new methodology, SW-8327 (direct injection), for validating 24 PFAS compounds using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry analysis.

NACWA submitted comments urging the Agency to not move forward until there is sufficient scientific confidence and validation in the methodology (as proposed, 11 of 24 analytes tested revealed errors with reproducibility, response, recovery, stability, and chromatography). EPA’s webinar indicated that this proposed analytical method has been validated, is going through final review, and could be finalized as early as this Fall.

EPA is also working on SW-846 Method (isotope dilution) which is a more complex methodology but can analyze 40 PFAS analytes in surface water, wastewater, landfill leachate and biosolids among others. There is an ongoing collaborative effort to validate the method through single laboratory validation. Assuming this method can be validated, which could be by December 2020, EPA will move forward with multi-lab validation in 2021.

Other updates from the webinar include that the Agency considers a high priority to move forward on developing total organofluorine analysis using combustion ion chromatography (TOF) because of the wide commercial scale and limited specialized/costly instrumentation required to carry out the analysis.

If members have questions, contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.