Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule for regulating PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water. The agency has broadened its plans to regulate only the two most controversial “forever chemicals” (PFOA and PFOS) under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and now proposes to limit levels of six compounds in drinking water. These chemicals have been found to pose health dangers at extremely low levels of exposure and are estimated to be contaminating the drinking water for more than 100 million Americans.
In response, Marc Yaggi, CEO of Waterkeeper Alliance, released the following statement:
“It is good news that EPA finally released a proposal to protect the public from polluters that are contaminating our drinking water with these dangerous forever chemicals. These standards are badly needed to provide relief to communities who, for years, have borne the consequences of government negligence and inaction when it comes to the PFAS crisis. Limiting PFAS in drinking water is an important first step to address this issue, but there is more work to be done. In addition to this rulemaking, we call for federal and state governments to adequately fund the infrastructure upgrades that utilities need to effectively remove these dangerous chemicals, which should ultimately be paid for by the manufacturers and not by the public. Waterkeeper Alliance will continue to advocate for strong federal safeguards to stop manufacturers from discharging PFAS into our air, waters, and environment in the first place.”
Four additional chemicals will be targeted as a mixture, prompting water systems to use a hazard index calculation that would determine when combined levels of those compounds pose a possible risk. Those chemicals are PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and HFPO-DA, which is better known by its trademarked name GenX. That move represents a pivot after EPA initially announced plans to develop maximum contaminant levels for only PFOA and PFOS.
Last year, Waterkeeper Alliance released the findings of a groundbreaking analysis of American waterways that found that 83 percent of the 114 waterways tested across the country were found to contain at least one type of these dangerous forever chemicals. The study also found PFNA at 35 sites, PFHxs at 94 sites, and PFBS at 118 sites, often occurring with PFOS and PFOA in the sampling project.
EPA is requesting public comment on the proposed regulation and will hold informational webinars for the public on March 16 and 29, 2023 and a public hearing on May 4, 2023. Waterkeeper Alliance encourages the public and all stakeholders to attend and submit comments. Please visit EPA’s website for more information.