It seems that every day, news articles announce previously unknown detections of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water supplies or identify new consumer products as potential sources of PFAS. PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals,” are a large group of human-made chemicals used to make coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. These chemicals are commonly found in products such as clothing, food packaging, cookware, cosmetics, carpeting and fire-fighting foam, and have been used to make fluorinated, high-density polyethylene containers. 

As the public awareness of PFAS grows, so too do the calls for legislatures and regulators to address PFAS releases into the environment. Over the last year, federal regulators have taken several steps to address PFAS in the nation’s drinking water and to curb the release of these substances into the environment; however, final enforceable regulations are yet to be issued in many areas. While federal efforts have taken a bit longer to unfold, state lawmakers have, in some cases, moved quickly to develop a patchwork of local regulations that companies must navigate. This article will summarize some of the recent actions of federal lawmakers, discuss the intersection of those efforts with local state efforts in the mid-Atlantic region and forecast what’s on the horizon for federal PFAS regulation.