May 26, 2024

First Ever National Drinking Water Standard Targets PFAS

A first ever national drinking water standard targets PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as forever chemicals, according to the EPA. The Biden Administration issued the new standard on April 10, 2024.

First Ever National Drinking Water Standard Targets PFAS

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to cancer, liver and heart effects, and immune health. This rule will refuse PFAS exposure for about 100 million Americans, prevent thousands of deaths and reduce serious illnesses.

The EPA is making funding available to help ensure that communities can make improvements to infrastructure. This investment is through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement, “Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities across this country for too long. That is why President Biden has made tackling PFAS a top priority, investing historic resources to address these harmful chemicals and protect communities nationwide. Our PFAS Strategic Roadmap marshals the full breadth of EPA’s authority and resources to protect people from these harmful forever chemicals. Today, I am proud to finalize this critical piece of our Roadmap, and in doing so, save thousands of lives and help ensure our children grow up healthier.”

The EPA is establishing legally enforceable levels for several PFAS that occur individually and as measure sin drinking water. The rule sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”). It also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.”

The EPA estimates that about 6% and 10% of the 66,000 public drinking water systems that will be subject to this rule have to take action to reduce PFAS and meet the new standards. All public water systems have three years to complete their initial monitoring for the chemicals, and if the levels exceed the standards, they have five years to implement solutions.

The technologies used to reduce PFAS include granular activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange systems. Flexibility will be allowed for public health officials to determine the best solution for their community.

For PFOA and PFOS, the EPA is setting a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health effects, including certain cancers.

The EPA is setting enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in our drinking water to the lowest feasible levels..

For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.

Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

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