New Rule Aims to Limit Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water

( – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first nationwide standard for certain “forever chemical” levels in tap water. The new rule is part of the Biden administration’s commitment to protecting consumers from exposure to toxins called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The new regulation is expected to protect around 100 million people from PFAS exposure.

PFAS are toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that stick around in the environment. The pollutants are found in products such as cosmetics, firefighting foams, non-stick pans, stain-resistant clothing, solar panels, and artificial turf. PFAS are linked to health issues including certain types of cancer, thyroid problems, problems with the immune system, low birth weight, and liver problems, causing more than 10,000 deaths annually.

The new EPA water standard will require water utilities to maintain levels of certain forms of PFAS called PFOA and PFOS to 4 parts per trillion or less. Other forms of PFAS will be limited to 10 parts per trillion. The estimated cost of implementing the new standard will be approximately $1.5 billion per year but experts claim the health benefits will significantly outweigh the projected costs.

Public water systems will be given three years to complete testing and report the levels of PFAS chemicals in the drinking water. Areas with levels that exceed the new standard guidelines will need to implement new filtering systems to bring levels to acceptable limits within five years.

The administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan said the chemicals can be harmful to public health and the environment. Regan intends to announce the new regulations on Wednesday, April 17th in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Robert Powelson of the National Association of Water Companies said the cost of the federal regulation will unfairly fall on water customers. He stated that water utilities do not “create or produce PFAS chemicals” but are on the “front lines” for the cost of the cleanup. The American Water Works Association agrees and says the best way to protect drinking water from PFAS is to protect “precious water sources.”

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