For the first time, the federal government will require utilities to remove from drinking water toxic chemicals, PFAS also known as forever chemicals, found in everything from waterproof clothing to dental floss and even toilet paper. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the requirement on March 14, 2023. The EPA will accept public comments for 60 days before the regulation will take effect.
For the first time in US history, the federal government is setting enforceable limits for PFAS pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in March 2023 that the government will require utilities to remove from drinking water 6 toxic chemicals found in everything from waterproof clothing to dental floss and even toilet paper. The government intends to require near-zero levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, part of a class of chemicals known as known as PFAS. Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to cancer, liver damage, fertility and thyroid problems, asthma and other health effects.
PFAS is ubiquitous in what we use and wear
PFAs chemicals were pioneered by 3M in the 1950s. 3M and DuPont, another large chemical company, made the oil- and water-resistant chemicals for various applications. The synthetic chemicals are so ubiquitous in modern life in nonstick cookware, stain resistant fabrics, fire-extinguishing foams and in a host of things that nearly all Americans, including newborn babies, carry PFAS in their bloodstream. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because carbon-fluoride bonds that enable these uses also make the chemicals persistent and don’t break down in the environment. The chemicals seep into soil and water. As many as 200 million Americans are exposed to PFAS in their tap water, according to a peer reviewed 2020 study.
No level of PFAS is safe
Almost no level of exposure was safe. It advised that drinking water contain no more than 0.004 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanoic acid and 0.02 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. Previously, the agency had advised that drinking water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion of the chemicals.
In addition to being toxic to human health, PFAS chemicals also pose a problem for wildlife. PFAS have been detected in animals, fish and birds, threatening species like dolphins and endangered sea turtles.
The E.P.A. will accept public comments on the proposed regulation for 60 days before it will take effect and become the legal limit.
States and Cities have been cracking down on PFAS in drinking water
Across the country, cities and states have already been cracking down on PFAS in drinking water. States that have proposed or adopted limits include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
PFAS Resources (EWG)
PFAS Explained (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
(PFAS) Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
Keep Me Updated
At MyAsianVoice, we bridge institutions and government to our collective for data equity, data disaggregation, polling, surveys and research so that Asian representation is included.Add me to your list! >>