Glass Water

EPA Sets Precedent By Legally Enforcing Limits on Several PFAS Chemicals in Drinking Water

Apr 10, 2024 | Anu Varma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), backed by the Biden-Harris Administration, finalizes first-ever National Drinking Water Standard to “Protect 100M People from PFAS Pollution.” This move marks the onset of legally enforceable regulations at the federal level to limit the spread of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), popularly called “forever chemicals” due to their ability to persist for decades in water sources and affect people’s health including but not limited to certain cancers, changes to liver and heart health, and developmental impediments in children. The announcement is the most significant public health action taken by EPA to advance the PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

According to the federal agency’s announcement, this rule:

  • sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”).
  • sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.”
  • enforces Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS individually, with a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) at zero.
  • sets MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion for PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

Funding Announcement to Help Implementation of the new Standard: Nearly $1 billion through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is being made available to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment for public water systems using available technologies and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination. Learn more at epa.gov/dwcapacity/emerging-contaminants-ec-small-or-disadvantaged-communities-grant-sdc.

Helpful Links:

  1. EPA’s PFAS drinking water regulation webpage where the agency will host webinars for public, communities, and water utilities about this regulation in coming weeks.
  2. The PFAS Communications Toolkit can help your health department communicate with the public about PFAS risks, exposure pathways, and this new regulation.
  3. The agency’s Water Technical Assistance Programs can be readily accessed by small/rural/disadvantaged communities to build capacity with identifying PFAS in multiple ways.

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About Anu Varma

Pronouns: She/Her

Anupama Varma is a Communications Specialist for Environmental Health at NACCHO.

More posts by Anu Varma

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