“WASHINGTON, DC — Catherine McCabe, new commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, had a tongue-in-cheek question for the PFAS panel.

Should New Jersey set drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — which the state is poised to roll out — or wait years for the federal government to establish nationwide standards for the seemingly ubiquitous pollutants.

The panel and audience laughed at the question, which sliced to the heart of the Environmental Protection Agency’s national PFAS Summit on May 22 in Washington, DC., where 200 people representing 38 state governments, industry, tribes, environmental groups and federal agencies convened for a daylong conference.

Embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced at the summit outset that “the process needs to begin” to set a nationwide maximum contaminant level (MCL) in drinking water for PFOS and PFOA, two very problematic PFAS compounds.

But states with PFAS drinking water contamination like New York and New Jersey aren’t interested in waiting the decade or more one panelist estimated it could take to set new nationwide standards. And many speakers and audience members expressed interest in seeing more than just two PFAS compounds regulated…

Ansje Miller from the Center for Environmental Health, who lives in North Carolina where the Cape Fear River has been contaminated by a PFOA replacement fluoropolymer called GenX made by DuPont spinoff company Chemours, said she noted a consensus among the room that regulating PFAS chemicals individually was a fools errand.

That PFAS should be regulated as a class ‘almost seemed universal.’

The wide-ranging discussion on PFAS regulation did not shy away from the elephant in the room — a pending Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report on draft toxicological profiles for PFOS, PFOA, PFNA and PFHxS, the latter of which is closely associated with PFAS-laden firefighting foam and has the longest half-life in the human body of any PFAS compound.”

Read the full article by Garret Ellison