New EPA standards limit forever chemicals in drinking water

This is the first time the agency has put guidelines in place related to drinking water safety

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to protect consumers from exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or forever chemicals, in drinking water

For the first time, the agency has a set of standards that will limit how much of the toxic chemicals are allowed in drinking water, which will ultimately benefit consumers across the country. The EPA is hopeful that these efforts will limit exposure to forever chemicals and reduce the risk of disease related to such exposures. 

“Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities across the country for too long,” said Michael S. Regan, EPA administrator. “That is why President Biden has made tackling PFAS a top priority, investing historic resources to address these harmful chemicals and protect communities nationwide.” 

Keeping consumers safe and water clean

With this announcement, the EPA will require that PFAS levels in drinking water are kept to certain limits across the country. There are five primary types of PFAS that are part of the standard: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA. 

To ensure that these standards are met, the EPA is making $1 billion in funding available to public water utility companies nationwide. The funds are part of the $9 billion made through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was designed to help communities fight against PFAS exposure. 

According to the EPA’s estimations, as many as 10% of the 66,000 public water drinking systems will have to take action to comply with the new standards. The agency explained that the top three ways to reduce PFAS exposure in water are: ion exchange systems, granular activated carbon, and reverse osmosis.  

Over the next three years, these companies will have to report their PFAS levels to the EPA. If the levels are too high, they must move forward with one of the available options for lowering PFAS levels within five years. 

In making these changes across the country, the EPA estimates that 100 million people will no longer be exposed to PFAS in their water. This will ultimately prevent serious illnesses and deaths for thousands of consumers nationwide. 

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