Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are substances utilized in a variety of goods that do not degrade quickly in the environment; they are sometimes known as “forever chemicals.” According to reports, “forever chemicals” are related to cancer and the disruption of biological processes in youngsters.
In addition, it is estimated that 200 million individuals in the United States consume water containing PFAS at unsafe levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended a nationwide guideline for six “forever chemicals” in drinking water on March 14. The plan would restrict PFOA and PtoS at a level at which they can be reliably tested at four parts per trillion and limit the total amount of four more harmful PFAS compounds.
The new recommended limits come after the EPA released health advisories for PFAS in June 2022, stating that certain detrimental health consequences could occur with PFOA or PFOS concentrations in drinking water that are close to zero and below the EPA’s detection limit.
In a press release, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan states, “EPA’s proposal to create a national standard for PFAS in drinking water is based on the best available research and would provide states with the information they need to make decisions that best safeguard people.”
Yet, the regulation would oblige public water systems to monitor levels of “permanent chemicals” and reduce them if they exceed the new limits. Robert F. Powelson, president of the National Association of Water Companies, says in a statement that U.S. regulated water firms were already trying to eliminate PFAS before the EPA proposed its regulation.
“The removal of PFAS from the nation’s water supply would undoubtedly cost billions of dollars. Under the current arrangement, the burden will fall disproportionately on water and wastewater consumers in small areas and low-income households, “He claims. Powelson also believes that polluters, not water and wastewater users and utilities, should shoulder the financial burden of remediation efforts.
The $550 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation (BIL) enacted in 2021, however, allocated $10 billion for the elimination of new pollutants. The EPA said in February 2023 that $2 billion of this funding are available to battle PFAS in drinking water and improve access to safe and clean water in small, rural, and economically disadvantaged communities.