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EPA Proposes First Drinking Water Standards for Toxic PFAS

March 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Researching PFAS in Landfills

Washington, D.C.— The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed the first nationwide limits on the amount of six highly toxic PFAS chemicals allowed in drinking water. This proposal would reduce people’s exposure to serious health risks and prevent thousands of premature deaths.

EPA’s proposed standards cover six PFAS that have contaminated drinking water supplies nationwide: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFBS, PFHxS, and GenX. For PFOA and PFOS, EPA proposed a binding drinking water limit of four parts per trillion per chemical. For the other four PFAS, EPA proposed a binding limit based on a hazard index designed to address those chemicals’ cumulative effects.

“For the millions of people with PFAS in their tap water, strong national drinking water standards cannot come soon enough,” said Earthjustice attorney Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz. “Today’s proposal is a necessary and long overdue step towards addressing the nation’s PFAS crisis, but what comes next is equally important. EPA must resist efforts to weaken this proposal, move quickly to finalize health-protective limits on these six chemicals, and address the remaining PFAS that continue to poison drinking water supplies and harm communities across the country.”

PFAS is a toxic class of more than 12,000 chemicals that persist in the environment and build up in the human body over time. Despite their severe health effects, including cancer, reproductive and development harm, and immune system suppression, PFAS remain widespread and are estimated to contaminate the drinking water supplies of approximately 200 million people in the United States. In 2022, EPA issued health advisories finding serious risks from “any detectable level of PFOA or PFOS” in drinking water, with the most significant risks to young children.

More than 95% of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Companies manufacture PFAS chemicals to produce non-stick, waterproof, and other products, including cosmetics, personal care products, food packaging, and firefighting foam. Industry’s widespread use of PFAS has poisoned people’s drinking water, a significant pathway of exposure to this class of toxic chemicals. People drinking PFAS-contaminated water are at risk of experiencing cancer, thyroid disease, hormone imbalance, and reproductive issues.

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