SGS PFAS Update XLIX: PFAS News for Environmental Professionals

Across North America, PFAS and forever chemicals continue to generate newsworthy content. Companies, corporations and individual households are becoming more aware of the long-lasting impacts these chemicals can have. In this January edition of the PFAS newsletter, you’ll find interesting articles related to toxins found in orcas and smelt in Canada, to concerning statistics about freshwater fish and a specific brand of orange juice in the United States. Learn what states are doing to help eliminate PFAS and how scientists in Australia are using magnetic solutions to remove forever chemical in water.

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Magnetic solution removes toxic “forever chemicals” from water in seconds

Scientists in Australia have developed an intriguing new technique for removing toxic “forever chemicals” from water. Adding a solution to contaminated water coats the pollutants and makes them magnetic, so they can easily be attracted and isolated.


Limit how many rainbow smelt you eat out of Lake Huron

You may need to limit how many rainbow smelt you’re dining on depending on where it was caught. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released new Eat Safe Fish guidelines for rainbow smelt from different lakes across the state.

Forever Chemicals Invade Orcas—and Their Fetuses

Researchers say they’re “shocked and saddened” to have discovered toxic chemicals, including “forever chemicals,” in the bodies of killer whales, including endangered southern resident orcas, whose population decline could be a direct result.

United States

EPA Announces Plans for Wastewater Regulations and Studies, Including Limits for PFAS, New Study for Nutrients

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released Effluent Guidelines Program Plan 15 (Plan 15), which lays out how the Agency will work to protect the nation’s waterways by following the science and the Clean Water Act to develop technology-based pollution limits and studies on wastewater discharges from industrial sources.

This Plan focuses on evaluating the extent and nature of both nutrient and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) discharges. Plan 15 further advances EPA’s commitment in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap to restrict PFAS discharges from industrial sources through a multi-faceted Effluent Limitations Guidelines program.

Locally caught fish are full of dangerous chemicals called PFAS, study finds

Fish caught in the fresh waters of the nation’s streams and rivers and the Great Lakes contain dangerously high levels of PFOS, short for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, a known synthetic toxin phased out by the federal government, according to a study of data from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Reports on PFAS and Freshwater Fish Are Misleading

This inaccurate picture about what threat, if any, is posed due to PFAS exposure does a disservice to the public by creating unnecessary alarm, increasing economic challenges to small businesses, and threatening to divert attention, funding, and resources from more pressing priorities. It’s important for news outlets to make it clear that all PFAS chemistries are not the same. Individual chemistries have their own unique health and environmental profiles.

Simply PFAS: Lawsuit Claims ‘All Natural’ Orange Juice Brand Contains Toxic Forever Chemicals

If a product is titled “Simply Orange Juice” and advertised as “all natural,” you would reasonably expect that it contained freshly-squeezed orange juice, water and little else. You certainly wouldn’t expect it to contain unsafe levels of toxic forever chemicals linked to health ailments from immunosuppression to reproductive problems to cancer. Yet that is exactly what the Coca-Cola-owned Simply Orange products contain, according to a class action lawsuit filed in a New York federal court on Dec. 28 of last year, giving the lie to its natural claims.

State Bans on Products With ‘Forever Chemicals’ Increase

New state laws banning products with “forever chemicals”—from carpets and fast-food wrappers to ski wax—are taking effect as momentum grows nationally to get rid of substances that accumulate in human bodies and are linked to serious health problems.

3M to end ‘forever chemicals’ output at cost of up to $2.3 bln

U.S. industrial conglomerate 3M Co set a 2025 deadline to stop producing PFAS, the “forever chemicals” used in anything from cell phones to semiconductors that have been linked to cancers, heart problems and low birth weights.


PFAS contamination in south Tucson challenges historic cleanup, revives health concerns

Over two decades ago, water testing revealed the presence of 1,4-dioxane in wells near the Superfund site, and an additional treatment facility was built 12 years later. Then “forever chemicals,” or PFAS, were found. Tucson Water tested and shut down wells, blended water and invested in treatment, even though there is still no federal regulation for the contaminant.

AZ firefighters pioneer ‘forever chemical’ treatment

Firefighters are at higher risk of PFAS exposure due to the chemicals in foams and protective gear as well as in household products burned in fires. Arizona firefighters could play a key role in developing the next chapter of this insight when the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association partner on a $4 million study this year that hopes to enroll 1,500 Arizona firefighters.


In Colorado, Oil and PFAS Shouldn’t Mix

We can add PFAS contamination to the list of ways the oil and gas industry is threatening Coloradans’ health. Two new laws aim to stop it—but are they enough?


State looking into toxic chemicals in soil at Maui airport

A group of toxic chemicals found in firefighting foam has been detected in soil at Kahului Airport and in the groundwater below, according to the state Department of Transportation, with testing for the substances underway at other airports across the state.


‘Forever chemicals’ found in lower Mississippi. More testing, regulation needed?

Persistent chemicals increasingly drawing regulatory scrutiny because of their potential harm to the environment and the public have been detected in the Mississippi River in Ascension, Pointe Coupee and St. James parishes, a New Orleans nonprofit has found.


PFAS levels in livestock can diminish if contamination source removed, state officials say

Levels of PFAS contamination in livestock can diminish over time if farmers remove the source of the contamination from their land, state officials said recently. As PFAS is discovered at more locations across the state, a primary concern is the impact on Maine farms where contaminated water, soil, or something else, can mean the chemicals transfer to animals and produce.

PFAS detected in wells used at Mountain View Correctional Facility

PFAS chemicals were found in three out of five wells used by the Mountain View Correctional Facility, officials said.


Sauk Rapids City Well Contaminated with Unacceptable Levels of Forever Chemicals

A representative from the Minnesota Department of Health presented to the Sauk Rapids City Council on the presence of a concerning level of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances in one of the city’s wells. District Engineer Supervisor Todd Johnson says Well 2’s Health Risk Index was above one, the threshold to encourage a public notice to residents.

New Jersey

EPA adds new PFAS chemicals to ‘toxic release inventory’

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added nine per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory or “TRI” list. The chemicals have taken on prominence in the Dayton area, with three local cities pursuing lawsuits against the government and against manufacturers.

New York

New York Bans Apparel Treated by PFAS Chemicals

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law prohibiting the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in production of clothing and textiles within New York State. The legislation will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2023.


City of Mansfield to pursue lawsuit related to contaminants at airport

The City of Mansfield is going to pursue a lawsuit against companies it claims are responsible for contaminants at Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport. According to the news release, the lawsuit will seek “compensation and damages for the investigation, remediation, removal, disposal, treatment and monitoring of the ongoing PFAS contamination of the surface water, groundwater and soil of the Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport.”


Pa. Sets drinking water standards on two ‘forever chemical’ pfas compounds

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection adopted new limits on two of the toxic class of chemicals known as PFAS. The move means that all public and private drinking water treatment facilities in the state, along with commercial bottled water plants, and school and healthcare facilities will have to test for the toxic substance, report the findings and treat water for the chemicals present above the new maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).


Some landfills will begin treating PFAS on-site as regulators move to adopt new limits

After years of sending leachate from the Coventry landfill downstream to a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Vermont, Casella Waste Systems is building an on-site facility to treat its runoff. Amid rising public concern over PFAS and new or forthcoming regulations, an increasing number of landfill operators across the country are considering similar moves.