PFCs and Other Chemicals to Receive Increased Regulatory Attention in New Jersey in 2017

January 22, 2017
Bruce S. Katcher
MGKF Special Alert - Forecast 2017

The group of chemicals referred to as perfluorinated chemicals (“PFCs”) are likely to receive increased regulatory scrutiny by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) in 2017.  PFCs have been historically used in a wide variety of products to make them resistant to stains, grease and water and have also been used in some firefighting materials (such as foam).  They are extremely persistent in the environment and have been showing up in municipal drinking water supplies in New Jersey. 

NJDEP recently initiated procedures to adopt the 2015 recommendation of the New Jersey Drinking Water Quality  Institute (DWQI) to set a new drinking water standard for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) of 0.013 parts per billion (ppb) which should take 12 to 18 months to complete.  The DWQI also made a recommendation in 2016 to set a drinking water standard for another PFC, perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”), at 0.014 ppb, and this chemical is likely to be the next one in the NJDEP regulatory hopper.  These standards would be lower than existing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NJDEP guidance levels and could ultimately become groundwater remediation standards as well as drinking water standards. 

In addition, the legislature is currently considering a bill that would mandate that NJDEP adopt new or increased standards for sixteen chemicals (including PFNA, perchlorate, radon-222 and formaldehyde), for which the DWQI has made recommendations since 1985, but for which NJDEP has failed to promulgate or increase standards.  If enacted, this legislation would obligate NJDEP follow a similar procedure for future DWQI recommendations.