[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 85 (Tuesday, May 3, 2022)]
[Pages 26199-26201]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-09441]



[EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0365 and EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0366; FRL 8310-01-OW]

Draft Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for 
Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS)

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: As part of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 
commitment to safeguard the environment from per- and polyfluoroalkyl 
substances (PFAS), the agency is announcing the availability of Clean 
Water Act (CWA) national ``Draft Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water 
Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)'' and ``Draft 
Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for 
Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS)'' for a 30-day public comment 
period. These draft criteria are a priority action identified in EPA's 
PFAS Strategic Roadmap and reflect the latest scientific knowledge 
regarding the effects of PFOA and PFOS on freshwater organisms. These 
draft criteria have undergone external peer review, and EPA has revised 
the documents accordingly. When these draft CWA recommended criteria 
are finalized, they will provide information that states and tribes may 
consider when adopting water quality standards.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 2, 2022.

    Docket: EPA has established dockets for these actions under Docket 
ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0365 for the ``Draft Recommended Aquatic Life 
Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)'' and 
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0366 for the ``Draft Recommended Aquatic 
Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid 
(PFOS).'' You may send comments, identified by the Docket ID No. EPA-
HQ-OW-2022-0365 for the draft PFOA criteria or Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-
2022-0366 for the draft PFOS criteria, through the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal: https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions 
for submitting comments.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket ID 
No. for this rulemaking. Comments received may be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov/, including any personal information 
provided. For detailed instructions on sending comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the ``Public Participation'' 
heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. Out 
of an abundance of caution for members of the public and our staff, the 
EPA Docket Center and Reading Room are open to the public by 
appointment only to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Our 
Docket Center staff also continue to provide remote customer service 
via email, phone, and webform. Hand deliveries and couriers may be 
received by scheduled appointment only. For further information on EPA 
Docket Center services and the current status, please visit us online 
at https://www.epa.gov/dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James Justice, Health and Ecological 
Criteria Division, Office of Water (Mail Code 4304T), Environmental 
Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; 
telephone: (202) 566-0275; or email: [email protected].


I. Public Participation--Written Comments

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2022-
0365 for the draft PFOA criteria or Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0366 
for the draft PFOS criteria, at https://www.regulations.gov. Once 
submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from the docket. EPA 
may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit 
electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business 
Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted 
by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be 
accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the 
official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish 
to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents 

[[Page 26200]]

outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other 
file sharing system). For the full EPA public comment policy, 
information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance 
on making effective comments, please visit https://www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

II. What are PFOA and PFOS, and how do they affect aquatic life?

    PFOA and PFOS are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals 
in the PFAS group. PFAS have been manufactured and used by a broad 
range of industries since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS are not naturally 
occurring and have no biologically important functions or beneficial 
properties to aquatic life. The mechanisms underpinning the toxicity of 
PFOA and PFOS to aquatic organisms, like other PFAS, is an active and 
on-going area of research. The draft recommended criteria are based on 
observed effects of PFOA and PFOS to the survival, growth, and 
reproduction of aquatic organisms. Based on the available ecotoxicity 
data, aquatic plants are generally less sensitive to PFOA and PFOS than 
fish and other aquatic life.

III. What are EPA's recommended criteria for PFOA and PFOS in 
freshwater for the protection of aquatic life?

    EPA's draft recommended aquatic life ambient water quality criteria 
documents provide a critical review of PFOA and PFOS toxicity data, 
quantify the toxicity of these chemicals to aquatic life, and provide 
separate PFOA and PFOS criteria to protect aquatic life from the toxic 
effects of these chemicals. These draft criteria were derived to 
reflect the latest scientific knowledge using the available data on the 
toxicological effects of PFOA and PFOS on aquatic life. EPA developed 
these draft aquatic life ambient water quality criteria following the 
general approach outlined in EPA's ``Guidelines for Deriving Numerical 
Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Aquatic Organisms and 
Their Uses.''
    EPA developed the draft PFOA and PFOS criteria to be protective of 
most aquatic organisms in the community (i.e., approximately 95 percent 
of tested aquatic organisms representing the aquatic community) and to 
be protective of aquatic life designated uses established for 
freshwaters. The draft criteria documents both contain acute and 
chronic criteria for freshwaters (see Table 1). The draft criteria 
documents also contain chronic criteria expressed as tissue-based 
concentrations to protect aquatic life from PFOA and PFOS 
bioaccumulation (see Table 1 below). The chronic freshwater and chronic 
tissue criteria for both of these chemicals are intended to be 
independently applicable and no one criterion takes primacy.
    Data limitations did not allow for derivation of PFOA or PFOS 
national recommended water quality criteria in estuarine/marine waters. 
However, EPA derived acute estuarine/marine benchmarks through 
application of a New Approach Method (NAM), using available toxicity 
data supplemented with modeled estimates of acute toxicity. The acute 
estuarine/marine benchmarks for PFOA and PFOS are recommendations for 
states and tribes to consider as protective values in their water 
quality protection programs.
    EPA's draft recommended criteria are the maximum concentrations of 
PFOA and PFOS (individually, not in mixture), with associated frequency 
and duration specifications, that will support protection of aquatic 
life from acute and chronic effects in freshwaters (see Table 1).

           Table 1--Draft Recommended Freshwater Aquatic Life Water Quality Criteria for PFOA and PFOS
                                                  Chronic water    Invertebrate     Fish whole-
      Criteria component          Acute water      column (CCC)   whole-body (mg/   body (mg/kg     Fish muscle
                               column (CMC) \1\        \2\           kg ww\3\)          ww)         (mg/kg ww)
PFOA Magnitude...............  49 mg/L.........  0.094 mg/L.....            1.11            6.10           0.125
PFOS Magnitude...............  3.0 mg/L........  0.0084 mg/L....           0.937            6.75            2.91
Duration.....................  1-hour average..  4-day average..  Instantaneous.\4\
Frequency....................  Not to be         Not to be        Not to be exceeded more than once in ten
                                exceeded more     exceeded more   years, on average.
                                than once in      than once in
                                three years, on   three years,
                                average.          on average.
\1\ Criterion Maximum Concentration.
\2\ Criterion Continuous Concentration.
\3\ Wet Weight.
\4\ Tissue data provide instantaneous point measurements that reflect integrative accumulation of PFOA or PFOS
  over time and space in aquatic life population(s) at a given site.

IV. What are CWA national recommended ambient water quality criteria 
developed by EPA?

    Section 304(a)(1) of the CWA directs EPA to develop and publish 
and, from time to time, revise criteria for water quality accurately 
reflecting the latest scientific knowledge. Water quality criteria 
developed under CWA Section 304(a) are based solely on data and 
scientific judgments on the relationship between pollutant 
concentrations and environmental and human health effects. CWA Section 
304(a) recommended criteria do not reflect consideration of economic 
impacts or the technological feasibility of meeting pollutant 
concentrations in ambient water.
    Under the CWA and its implementing regulations, states and 
authorized tribes are to adopt water quality criteria to protect 
designated uses (e.g., aquatic life, recreational use). CWA Section 
304(a) recommended criteria provide guidance to states and authorized 
tribes in adopting water quality standards that ultimately provide a 
basis for controlling discharges of pollutants. Standards consist of 
designated uses, water quality criteria to protect those uses, a policy 
for antidegradation, and may include general policies for application 
and implementation. EPA CWA Section 304(a) water quality criteria 
recommendations are not regulations and do not constitute legally 
binding requirements. States and authorized tribes may adopt other 
scientifically defensible water quality criteria that differ from these 
recommendations. CWA Section 303(c)(1) requires states and authorized 
tribes to review and modify, if appropriate, their water quality 
standards at least once every three years. Consistent with EPA 
regulations 40 CFR 131.11, protective criteria must be based on a sound 
scientific rationale and contain sufficient parameters or constituents 
to protect the designated

[[Page 26201]]

uses. Criteria may be expressed in either narrative or numeric form. 
When states and authorized tribes adopt numeric water quality criteria, 
those criteria should be based on (1) recommended CWA Section 304(a) 
criteria; (2) CWA Section 304(a) criteria modified to reflect site-
specific conditions; or (3) other scientifically defensible methods. 
Alternatively, states and authorized tribes may adopt narrative 
criteria or criteria based upon biomonitoring methods where numeric 
criteria cannot be established or to supplement numeric criteria.

Radhika Fox,
Assistant Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2022-09441 Filed 5-2-22; 8:45 am]