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Agency of Natural Resources Initiates Rulemaking Process to Adopt Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS Compounds



Montpelier, Vt. – As part of the ongoing approach to make sure all Vermonters have safe drinking water, the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) is proposing to adopt the Vermont Health Advisory as the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) at 20 parts per trillion for five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Over the next 30 days, the State will conduct pre-rulemaking stakeholder engagement to gather additional comments on the approach.

The Vermont Department of Health has issued a health advisory covering the following five compounds: perfluooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

Adopting an MCL ensures PFAS will not pose an undue risk to Vermonters’ drinking water. The Agency decided to initialize rulemaking for the following reasons:

  1. The Vermont Department of Health has concluded that the five PFAS substances pose a health risk and has established a Health Advisory for them. 
  2. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has not established an MCL for these contaminants and does not appear to be establishing an MCL in the near term. 
  3. These five PFAS are not naturally occurring in the environment.
  4. PFAS have been contaminants of particular concern to the State of Vermont.

The State has initiated this process, in part, in response to a petition from the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) requesting either the establishment of an MCL or a treatment standard for PFAS. The Agency will not pursue a treatment standard at this time. Economical and technically feasible methods already exist to measure the PFAS contaminants at the health level of concern, making an MCL the best option. In addition, the effectiveness of various PFAS treatment technologies is still unknown. There is not enough data to determine the effect of available treatment technologies, which may lead to a false sense of protection. ANR is working with other States and the Federal Government to evaluate data to develop a scientific approach to regulate PFAS as a class in the future.