Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are called “forever chemicals” because their unique chemistry prevents them from breaking down in the environment. PFAS are bio-accumulative and persistent in the human body. They are used to manufacture everyday consumer goods like non-stick cookware, cleaning products, sneakers, electronics, and even facial moisturizers.
A consistently reliable test method to measure PFAS levels is essential for effective environmental regulation. US EPA and the Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced the release of a new method to test for PFAS compounds in various media, Draft Method 1633
The new method tests for 40 PFAS compounds in:
- surface water,
- landfill leachate, and
- fish tissue.
EPA’s Council on PFAS and the DoD will continue to collaborate to complete a multi-laboratory validation (MLV) study of the method in 2022.
The US Food and Drug Administration explains an MLV this way:
"[An] MLV study is an inter-laboratory study in which collaborators in multiple laboratories use a defined method of analysis to analyze identical portions of homogeneous materials to assess the performance characteristics obtained for that method of analysis…It is designed to measure reproducibility, so that it can be determined if the method can be successfully performed by laboratories other than the originating laboratory."
Existing PFAS Test Methods
Draft Method 1633 is a new tool in the PFAS testing arsenal. Once verified, the new method will complement existing ones that test for PFAS in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and in non-potable water under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Who Tests for PFAS?
These laboratory analytical methods are used to analyze the chemical, physical, and biological components of drinking water, wastewater, and other environmental media.
PFAS test methods are used by:
- Regulatory Authorities;
- State, local, and tribal municipalities;
- Industry professionals; and
- Other stakeholders.
Use of the new test method 1633 is not
required unless or until the EPA establishes such a requirement through the rulemaking process. EPA recommends using the new test methods in individual permits now.
More about Clean Water Act analytical methods for PFAS.
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