While much of the regulatory action involving per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the US has focused on establishing drinking water standards, New York has now positioned itself to begin regulating air emissions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). On January 13, 2021, NYSDEC proposed an allowable concentration in ambient air – called an annual guideline concentration (AGC) – for PFOA. If approved, New York would join Michigan as one of the few states with established air quality restrictions on PFAS.
AGCs and shorter exposure limits – called short-term guideline concentrations (SGCs) – are guidance values used by NYSDEC to control emissions of toxic air contaminants emitted from process emission sources in the state. The AGC proposed for PFOA by NYSDEC and published in its Environmental Notice Bulletin is 0.0053 µg/m3. By comparison, this value is lower than existing AGCs for many other common air toxic compounds, including benzene, formaldehyde, lead and manganese.
As air emissions of PFAS, including PFOA, from industrial sources are known to have impacted surrounding land and water resources at several sites across the US, other state and federal regulators may look to establish similar health-based standards to address potential exposures to PFOA and other PFAS compounds. This regulatory focus on PFOA air emissions may affect new and existing sources in a number of different industries, including aviation, cabling and wiring operations, cosmetics, electronics, medical devices, metal plating and surface coating operations.
NYSDEC is currently accepting comments on the proposed action until February 12.
Innovative PFAS management
Ramboll has been developing innovative, business-focused solutions related to PFAS since the late 1990s. Our experts understand the complex environmental, chemical and toxicological characteristics of PFAS and how these characteristics can impact our clients and stakeholders. With our global experience and extensive knowledge of the regulatory landscape and PFAS chemistry and treatment technologies, we help clients navigate the rapidly evolving regulatory environment with in-depth scientific knowledge and advanced risk management solutions.
Our comprehensive air quality practice supports PFAS investigations, including emissions testing, dispersion modeling, toxicological risk assessment and air emissions control engineering and construction. Our experience includes expert services, source investigation and quantification, health science evaluations, product stewardship assistance and multimedia fate and transport evaluations for both primary manufacturers and secondary users of PFAS compounds.