ECOS Holds Virtual Event on PFAS; States Probing Heightened Biosolids and Incineration Management Response

(August 5, 2020) – The Environmental Council of States (ECOS) held their 2020 State Environmental Protection (STEP) policy summit virtually last week with a focus on “Partnering on PFAS.” The event featured state and federal perspectives from regulators in addition to lightning round panels led by experts. NACWA CEO Adam Krantz provided remarks on how the clean water community, who are passive receivers of PFAS, continues to respond to these emergent chemicals in wastewater and biosolids management.

Many state regulatory authorities continue to look at the Clean Water Act and the industrial pretreatment program as an effective means to mitigate PFAS concentrations from entering POTWs and subsequently discharged into surface waters. However, states participating in ECOS’ STEP meeting also noted that they are beginning to increase their focus on residuals management—particularly with respect to biosolids land application and sewage sludge incineration (SSI). State and federal regulators are assessing how PFAS moves through the incineration process, (e.g., whether the duration and temperature are sufficient to effectively break the strong carbon-fluorine bond) and whether current stack testing analysis can accurately capture PFAS concentration and destruction.

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) is currently researching these questions and has started bench and pilot scale testing on SSIs. Meanwhile, EPA continues to advance through its EPA Action Plan and developing an approved analytical methodology for non-drinking water media (wastewater, surface water, soils/biosolids). EPA is moving through inter-laboratory various validation processes, and it is likely that SW-846 Method 8327/Direct Injection will be finalized and approved this fall while a multi-laboratory validation process for SW-846 Method 8327/Isotope Dilution will begin in 2021. In addition, EPA aims to publish a guidance document this fall on PFAS destruction.

If members have questions about the ECOS STEP virtual summit or EPA’s PFAS efforts on biosolids or analytical methods status, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.