The Problem with PFAS

Eric Jacobi

The Problem with PFAS

One major environmental issue plaguing the country right now is the ubiquitous presence of PFAS. PFAS stands for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, and they are synthetic chemicals that have been used in firefighting foam as well as in a litany of consumer products including cookware, paints, electronics, sealants, and lubricants, among many others. The problem is that these substances do not break down in the environment. Given their strong chemical bonds, PFAS have gained the moniker of “forever chemicals.” Furthermore, PFAS exposure has been associated with adverse health effects at very low levels. The extent of these adverse health effects (and how they are impacted by a myriad of factors) are still being studied.

In Virginia, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the state legislature have been actively evaluating the PFAS problem. In 2022, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated funds to conduct PFAS sampling throughout the Commonwealth. In 2023, the General Assembly passed a law requiring certain industrial users discharging to Publicly Owned Treatment Works to test for PFAS.

This is just the beginning. Many states have already begun to develop regulatory criteria. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, of course, is also developing regulatory standards.

There is no doubt that this is a problem that will impact the industrial and commercial sectors in Virginia and throughout the country. We will keep you apprised of regulatory and statutory activities in Virginia.

Jacobi & Case is a law firm with offices in Virgina and Connecticut. We have substantial experience in Environmental Law going back to 1976. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Eric Jacobi at our Charlottesville office at (434) 260-7978.