13.06.2024

EPA launches landmark proposal to curb ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today proposed the first-ever standards for PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

It cannot contain more than four parts per trillion for PFOA and four parts per trillion for PFOS, the new proposed limits state.

The move could mean drinking water is drastically safer for almost everyone in the US, with thousands of deaths prevented, the EPA said.

PFAS are a category of man-made chemicals that can cause serious health problems over time, such as cancer.

The chemicals are in all types of products, including cleaning products, cookware, dishes, stain-resistant carpets and clothing and even toilet paper.

Drinking water cannot contain more than four parts per trillion for PFOA and four parts per trillion for PFOS under the new proposed rules

Drinking water cannot contain more than four parts per trillion for PFOA and four parts per trillion for PFOS under the new proposed rules

Public water systems will be required to monitor for these chemicals. If levels exceed the standards, systems have to tell the public and reduce the contamination.

There will also be a standard based on the hazard of a mixture of four additional PFAS chemicals: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and HFPO-DA (commonly known as Gen X).

EPA administrator Michael Regan said: ‘Communities across this country have suffered far too long from the ever-present threat of PFAS pollution.’

He added: ‘This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants.’

PFAS chemicals are used as oil and water repellents and coatings for common products including cookware, carpets, and textiles.

The endocrine-disrupting substances do not break down when they are released into the environment, and they continue to accumulate over time.

PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies near facilities where the chemicals are used.

They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.

Concerned about the chemicals’ ability to weaken children’s immune systems, the EPA said last year that PFAS could cause harm at levels ‘much lower than previously understood.’

There is evidence the compounds are linked to low birthweight, kidney cancer and a slew of other health issues.

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