PFAS Update XXII: PFAS in the Arctic, Water Contamination on Tribal Lands and Much More News on PFAS and Emerging Contaminants

As SGS joins the rest of the globe in navigating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and providing services related to both cleaning verification for buildings and ships, and indoor air testing for the virus, the health and safety of our clients, staff, families and communities is always our top priority. As we offer you news on PFAS and emerging contaminants, we wish you and yours the best of health.

Same as last month, and purely coincidentally, we bring you news on PFAS and emerging contaminants from 14 states, this time, including Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland and Wyoming.  Michigan continues to be a hotbed of PFAS activity with numerous lawsuits. Around the U.S., you’ll find stories on PFAS in the Arctic, water contamination on tribal lands, PFAS contamination on U.S. military bases in Japan, and much more. Wherever you are, no doubt, you’ll find news relevant to you and your clients.

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U.S. and Globally

Newer PFAS are Finding Their Way Into the Arctic
PFAS found in many household products and food packages, have raised concerns because of their persistence and possible toxicity to people and wildlife. Because the compounds don’t break down naturally, they have become environmental contaminants. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology have studied the transport of 29 PFAS into and out of the Arctic Ocean, detecting a newer compound for the first time in Arctic seawater.

FDA Announces Voluntary Agreement with Manufacturers to Phase Out Certain Short-Chain PFAS Used in Food Packaging
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is announcing that the manufacturers of certain PFAS used for grease-proofing in paper and paperboard for food packaging have voluntarily agreed to phase-out their sales of these substances for use as food contact substances in the United States.

Water Contamination on Tribal Lands Focus of Webinar Series
Water contamination on tribal lands was the focus of a recent webinar series funded in part by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP). More than 400 attendees tuned in for Water in the Native World, which wrapped up July 15.

PFAS Considerations from a Supreme Court Decision
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a split decision holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) does not preclude a landowner’s right to assert state law claims like nuisance and trespass that do not arise under the Act. …Although insights have been provided on the ruling’s far-reaching implications, one of the overlooked and most significant impacts will be on the PFAS litigation.

PFAS Contamination from US Military Facilities in Mainland Japan and Okinawa
Civilian checks near DoD bases, notably in Okinawa Prefecture, have detected elevated PFAS levels in waterways, soil, residents’ blood and the drinking water supplied to 450,000 people. But US military officials insist there is no proof that its bases are responsible for the environmental problems and they have denied requests from local authorities to conduct on-base checks.

Feeding the Waste Cycle: How PFAS ‘Disposal’ Perpetuates Contamination
Current methods of managing waste from toxic “forever chemicals” don’t work – and in fact, perpetuate the cycle of contamination, according to peer-reviewed research by scientists from the Environmental Working Group.

National Ground Water Association Offers New PFAS Educational Resources for Private Well Owners
The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has released two new educational resources for private well owners concerning PFAS.

EPA Grant of $4.8 Furthers Study of How PFAS Impacts Drinking Water Wells
Three universities, two in Indiana and another in Georgia, have been awarded $4.8 million in research funding for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.


ADEM, 3M Reach Consent Order on Contamination Efforts at Alabama Facility
3M Co. has been issued a consent order to clean up existing contamination and monitor future chemical emissions at its facility in north Alabama. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is holding the company accountable for cleaning up what are sometimes called “forever chemicals” from its film and chemical manufacturing plant in Decatur and at multiple sites in northwest Alabama.


Researchers Developing Device to Monitor ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Water
A University of Arkansas civil engineering researcher has been awarded $755,000 from the Department of Defense to develop a new monitoring method for so-called “forever chemicals” in water on military installations.


California PFAS Push Now Includes POTWs as State Water Board Rolls Out New Testing Order
On July 9, 2020, the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) issued an investigative order (the Order) to sample for PFAS at more than 250 publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).  The Order applies to waste water treatment plants throughout California with a design capacity at or exceeding one million gallons per day (mgd).


Pensacola Joins Lawsuit Against Manufacturers of ‘Forever Chemical’ PFAS
The city of Pensacola joined a growing legion of municipalities that are suing the manufacturers of highly toxic chemicals that have infiltrated the soil, groundwater and drinking water of cities across the nation.


Maine Looks To Be First In Nation with PFAS Statute of Limitations
On July 28, 2020, a legislative committee in Maine heard public comment from interested parties regarding a bill (L.D. 2160) that, if enacted, would specifically carve out a provision in Maine law for a statute of limitations related to PFAS personal injury or property damage claims. No other state in the country is known to have a statute of limitations that specifically targets PFAS.


Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Fights “Forever Chemicals”
On March 26, while much of the world had shut down, Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls was in the field. He waded into Antietam Creek to fill a vial, kayaked to a wastewater plant’s effluent source for another, and hiked to a second effluent pipe for a third. He shipped the samples to a lab.


Michigan PFAS Lawsuit Against 3M, DuPont Advances to Discovery
The Michigan Attorney General’s lawsuit against major global chemical producers like 3M and DuPont, which made toxic fluorochemicals that have caused widespread pollution, is moving forward.

How the Military Could End Up Following State-Proposed PFAS Limits
Michigan is close to enacting new, tougher standards for PFAS in drinking water. The rules will likely go into effect in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, a provision in the U.S. House version of the Pentagon budget could force the military to abide by the new state standards when the military agrees to clean up PFAS contamination near former military sites in the state.

City of DuPont Files Claim Regarding PFAS
The City of DuPont has filed a claim against the United States Government requesting financial compensation for future costs relating to ongoing water protection efforts in response to PFAS in the city’s water wells.

Battle Creek Receives Grant to Test Municipal Airport for PFAS Contamination
Battle Creek received a grant from Michigan to test for potential contamination from a group of chemicals known as PFAS at an airport.

New Hampshire 

Drought Raises Concerns of PFAS Contamination in Drinking Water
With parts of the state in a drought and following new legislation reducing contaminant levels for PFAS chemicals in drinking water, concerns are rising that public water systems will need to draw from contaminated wells that exceed new standards to meet demand.

New York

NYS Adopts Drinking Water Standards for Three Emerging Contaminants
New York state Thursday adopted maximum contaminant levels for three chemicals in drinking water. Environmental and community advocates wanted to see lower levels adopted, and more PFAS chemicals included, but say it’s a good start. One of the limits is a national first.                   

Bill Aims to Prevent PFAS from Contaminating Food, Passes in NY Senate and Assembly
New York lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate have passed a bill that would ban the manufacturing, selling, and distribution of food packaging that contains PFAS chemicals.

North Carolina

North Carolina Attorney General Launches Investigation Into ‘Forever Chemical’ Pollution
State Attorney General Josh Stein is having his office investigate the sources of “forever chemicals” pollution in North Carolina — substances like the PFAS and GenX chemicals discovered in recent years to have contaminated drinking water supplies in southeastern North Carolina.

Novel PFAS Comprise 24% of Those Measured in Blood of Wilmington, North Carolina Residents
In a new paper detailing findings from North Carolina State University’s GenX Exposure Study, researchers detected novel PFAS called ‘fluoroethers’ in blood from residents of Wilmington, North Carolina. The fluoroethers—Nafion byproduct 2, PFO4DA and PFO5DoA—represented 24% of the total PFAS detected in the blood of Wilmington residents and appear to leave the body faster than legacy PFAS. These are the first measurements of these chemicals in humans.

Chemical Company Ordered to Treat “Forever Chemical” Contamination Leaks Near Fayetteville 
North Carolina environmental officials Thursday ordered a former DuPont subsidiary to take more steps to stop PFAS from contaminating the Cape Fear River.

PFAS Highest in Cape Fear’s Raw Water: Study
Preliminary data released by scientists at seven North Carolina universities showed the highest levels of “forever chemicals,” PFAS, were observed at the Cape Fear region’s main raw water supply at the Kings Bluff pump station on the Cape Fear River.


Air Force Begins Field Work to Investigate PFAS at Former Reese AFB
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center began investigative field work in June, for PFAS around the former Reese Air Force Base, near Lubbock, Texas.


Geologists Study Clarendon Gorge to Map the Spread of PFAS
The state knew to test the wells in Clarendon after finding PFAS contamination in a groundwater collection trench near the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington in 2016.


Natural Resources Board Delays PFAS Rule in Response to Industry Objections
In response to industry pushback, Wisconsin’s natural resources policy board has delayed temporary regulations on the use and storage of firefighting foam containing hazardous fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.

Madison Water Utility Finds PFAS in All City Wells
Madison Water Utility says annual testing has found PFAS in all of the city’s drinking wells, although it maintains the levels fall below the state’s proposed safe drinking water limit.


Tap Water of 28 Homes Near JH Airport Test Positive for ‘Forever Chemicals’
Tap water samples from more than two dozen homes west of Jackson Hole Airport have tested positive for perfluoroalkyl substances traced to aircraft firefighting foam that leached into the groundwater after training drills.