Vermont DEC not expanding PFAS regulations at this time

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will not expand PFAS regulation for public drinking water at this time.

Regulating PFAS as a class would help protect Vermonters and provide greater regulatory certainty for cities and businesses.

They say there are four main challenges that need to be addressed before they can expand the regulation of PFAS in drinking water. They are inadequate toxicological research, insufficient analytical methods, the possibility of treatment options causing new health risks and lack of regional and national coordination.

These four problem areas were identified through a comprehensive analysis that the Vermont general assembly directed the DEC to conduct two years ago to assess the possibility of regulating more broadly or differently.

Ben Montross, the DEC’s drinking water program manager, says the department decided there isn’t enough information right now to do so.

He says they need better laboratory methods to determine how to quantify different compounds in the water.

“Right now, we can get somewhere around 30 or 40 compounds. There’s potentially 4,000 to 9,000 compounds out there, so we just don’t know which ones to exactly focus on and if we do employ treatment, we’re not sure if the treatment would even work because we’re not sure if we can even detect those other things. So, it’s absolutely an evolving landscape,” Montross said.

Another challenge is it would cost between tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars to install each public drinking water system.

The department says they couldn’t pay for this ongoing treatment without user rates increasing since there’s limited state funding currently available.

The DEC is teaming up with their federal partners to try to get this information.

Montross says there’s no timeline for when that could happen.

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