PFAS Analytic Tools Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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 General Questions about the Application and Webpage

Why did EPA create the PFAS Analytic Tools?

EPA created the PFAS Analytic Tools to integrate data about PFAS reporting, testing, and occurrences in communities. The PFAS Analytic Tools make it easier to evaluate the collective PFAS information from 11 different databases that include relevant information. Consolidating all these data sources in one searchable platform will help the public, researchers, and other stakeholders better understand potential PFAS sources in their communities, including potential exposure pathways in communities with environmental justice concerns. Public release of the PFAS Analytic Tools is a commitment included in EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap (Link to 2022 Progress Report – see p.8).

How do the tools work?

The application integrates 11 national data sets on PFAS into an interactive, web-based software. Users can filter data by PFAS or geographic area, explore application charts and maps, or download and open the files to explore the data. The webpage and PFAS Analytic Tools User Guide (PDF) (647 K) provide detailed information on how to use the tools and associated caveats about each data set included.

What information is provided about PFAS?

Information includes Clean Water Act discharges from permitted sources, a log of spills reported containing PFAS constituents, lists of facilities historically manufacturing and importing PFAS chemicals, federally owned locations where PFAS is being investigated, a history of transfers of PFAS waste, PFAS detections in the environment (e.g., surface water and fish tissue), and drinking water testing results. The data cover a broad list of PFAS chemicals and represent EPA’s ongoing efforts to consolidate the growing amount of testing information that is available.

Has EPA identified any particular areas of concern based on the data files in the tools?

The tools do not summarize and rank areas for concern across all the databases included. The interactive tools present the data in its native form and provide colored maps, charts and tables that let users distinguish the highest testing results from lowest ones for given databases and geographic areas.

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 Data and Data Reports

Can I determine the level of PFAS around where I live by using the tools?

The application allows users to zoom on the map to their local area to see what data is available. Filtering and sorting of the data sets can also be performed by location, for example zip code or county, which may provide relevant data records. For example, you can look up nearby drinking water testing results, identify whether potential PFAS industry sources are nearby, and see if there are fish tissue samples recorded in local waterways. More information on how to do this type of filtering can be found in the PFAS Analytic Tools User Guide (PDF) (647 K). The tools are part of EPA’s actions to develop tools that assist communities in evaluating PFAS levels in their area. As more PFAS data is collected and contributed, EPA expects that the amount of available data will grow. If you don’t see information within the tool within your community, it is possible that data exists at local level or state-level websites.

Can I view all of the data from each of the data sets at once?

Yes. Users can see the collection of data sets in the integrated map, the first view of the PFAS Analytic Tools after acknowledging the General Disclaimer. While summary level information is available in the integrated map, users will need to navigate to the individual data set tabs to retrieve detailed information. As you zoom into the map some additional layers will become visible if turned on using the Data Legend menu. More information about how to navigate between tabs can be found on the PFAS Analytic Tools User Guide (PDF) (647 K).

Does the data represent a complete view of all PFAS detections?

No – it represents what has been contributed into national data sets. EPA is aware that other testing results exist at other levels of government that have not been contributed into these national data sets. While EPA has taken steps to compile state, territorial, and tribal data that have been submitted nationally or those posted online in standard formats, the data are likely a subset of what states have available. If information appears to be limited, or missing, in your area, it is possible that additional data may exist at the state or local level.

Is the data required to be reported? (Are the states required to report their data to EPA?)

It depends on the data set. States have specific reporting requirements under a variety of environmental statutes. At this time, most of the data related to PFAS is reported voluntarily. Here are a few examples. Some states are reporting surface water measurement and fish tissue data into the Water Quality Portal whereas others do not. It is not required reporting. The web page contains drinking water testing data from state websites which EPA has consolidated into one data file, but that information is limited only to states that have readily accessible data on the web. EPA does have national drinking water data included; however, the data reporting requirements are primarily limited to certain types and sizes of public water systems. Facilities are required to report effluent discharges of PFAS chemicals under the Clean Water Act, but only if PFAS chemicals are specified as being reportable in each individual permit (typically issued by the state).

As regulators and regulated entities begin to perform more testing and report more data, EPA expects the volume of information in the datasets to grow. EPA decided to release the information it currently has and work with the states to increase the amount of PFAS data in the future.

Do the datasets provide names of specific industrial, manufacturing and government facilities that handle PFAS – and has it been verified that those facilities listed actually handle PFAS?

Some data sets show facilities that are handling PFAS. For example, one data file identifies all the PFAS manufacturing and importing facilities that submit reports to EPA under the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA), and another data file shows facilities that are monitoring and reporting effluent discharges under their CWA permits. In developing the datasets, EPA also identified a more expansive list of industry sectors that are known to use or produce/manufacture PFAS. EPA pulled from its Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) data system all the facilities that are within those categories. Those facilities are typically regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA does not have direct knowledge about whether all of those facilities actually handle PFAS. However, when identifying facilities within the tool that appear as possibly handling PFAS, users can access ECHO’s Detailed Facility Report to identify whether PFAS substances are reported to the Toxics Release Inventory or whether violations appear for Clean Water Act discharges.

Where do I go if I have questions about specific data in the tool?

Users are encouraged to first read the PFAS Analytic Tools Webpage where most of the answers to basic questions can be found. Detailed information mostly intended for technical users can be found in the detailed metadata document (PDF) (732 KB) in the “About the Datasets” section of the aforementioned webpage. Additionally, each data set contained in the application has a general information section and “contact us” form or web page containing information on how to contact the appropriate agency or department. The following is a list of the data sets and the URL to their information contact web pages.

Data Sets used in PFAS Analytic Tools
Data SetContact for More Information
Ambient Environmental Sampling for PFAS (Water Quality Portal)
Drinking Water Testing Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Reporting (UCMR) 
Drinking Water Testing (State) 
PFAS Manufacture and Imports Toxics Substances Control Act – Chemical Data Reporting (TSCA CDR) 
Superfund Sites with PFAS Detections (SEMS) 
Clean Water Act Discharge Monitoring (ICIS-NPDES) 
Federal Sites 
Facilities in Industries that May be Handling PFAS Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) 
Waste Transfers – Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA e-Manifest) 
Spills – Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS)
Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 
Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) 

How would I know whether a measured level of PFAS shown in the PFAS Analytic Tools represents a health risk that I should be concerned about?

EPA is prioritizing research on the health effects of PFAS to humans through different exposure pathways, but there is still much to learn about what levels of certain PFAS might be harmful to human health. More information about EPA research activities to further understanding about PFAS health effects can be found on EPA’s PFAS Research Website. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have a webpage on PFAS and Your Health.

While there is ongoing research for many PFAS, EPA has released some criteria for certain PFAS to help with understanding monitoring results:

Regulations related to PFAS currently vary widely state-to-state and so using PFAS Analytic Tools to identify violations on a local level would be difficult, and in most cases impossible, based solely upon the data available in the tools. EPA suggests visiting state and local regulatory authority websites to learn more about PFAS laws and regulations in your community.

How did EPA decide on which data sets to include in the tool?

EPA decided to query existing national data systems for PFAS records due to their national scope, ability to maintain current data, and minimize further reporting burdens on regulatory agencies.

How did EPA decide which PFAS to include in the tool, and is that list based on a regulatory standard or something else?

EPA decided to use the CompTox Dashboard list of PFAS with explicit structures and the list of PFAS without explicit structures to find related records for the tools. The extraction, curation and assembly of data associated with PFAS substances will continue to be updated with each future release of the CompTox Dashboard. The manner by which the lists are assembled may also change in future iterations based on EPA programmatic needs and different contexts. By using these lists maintained by EPA’s Office of Research and Development the PFAS Analytic Tools can maintain currency with the universe of substances that may be identified as PFAS. More information about how the lists were curated is available at the links above, but it is important to note that what specific chemicals are considered to be PFAS for a given regulatory program may differ from what is listed in EPA’s CompTox Chemicals Dashboard.

Does EPA have information in the tool about where human (blood) testing has identified PFAS hotspots?

EPA is working closely with other federal partners, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), on exposure studies that include biomonitoring. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has measured certain PFAS in blood in the U.S. population since 1999-2000 and results of this biomonitoring are available on the CDC’s PFAS in the U.S. Population webpage.

If I have concern about PFAS levels that I have been exposed to, what can I do?

EPA maintains a webpage on Meaningful and Achievable Steps you can Take to Reduce Your Risk of Exposure. State websites may have additional information.

How does EPA use the PFAS Analytic Tools?

EPA has used PFAS Analytic Tools for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Support of EPA investigations related to PFAS by the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
  • Identification of areas being prioritized for drinking water monitoring by state authorities.
  • Identification of co-occurrence variables in a United States Geological Survey study for a drinking water monitoring prioritization approach and ongoing EPA predictive analytics models for PFAS in fish tissue / surface water.
  • Identification of potential facilities for disposal/destruction research (e.g., incinerators of PFAS waste).
  • Assist EPA programs in the identification of facilities for data quality checks related to PFAS reporting.

What is EPA doing about PFAS contamination?

Please refer to this web page for a list of EPA Actions to Address PFAS or to the PFAS Strategic Roadmap for a list of activities and future actions that are underway.