The U.S. Is Legally Limiting Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water

The U.S. Is Legally Limiting Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water featured image
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As the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances— also known as PFAS or, colloquially, “forever chemicals”—are popular chemicals whose components break down very slowly over a long period of time and have been linked to an array of harmful health conditions, including cancer. Nowadays, whether it’s in skin-care products or bandaids, “forever chemicals” have become one of the hottest topics in the pursuit of healthier consumption.

Forever chemicals can appear in almost anything, including the water we drink on the daily. For decades, there has been no standard or regulation for limiting the prevalence of forever chemicals in drinking water, until now. In a revolutionary legal enforcement, the EPA has officially announced a limit on forever chemicals in water.

Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water: What EPA’s New Limit Means

Just this week, the Biden-Harris administration announced a groundbreaking new standard in collaboration with EPA that aims to limit the amount of forever chemicals found in drinking water. The first ever national, legally enforced standard for drinking water, the new limitation is a direct reaction to the EPA report that surfaced last August, revealing that PFAS were found in 45 percent of tap water in the U.S., and that the number was only expected to rise in years to come.

According to the new regulation, water utilities are required to extract five individual PFAS (also known as Gen X chemicals) from all water intended for drinking purposes, and are also restricting the combination of any four PFAS in order to minimize the appearance of forever chemicals to the lowest amount possible.

“Today’s announcements advance President Biden’s broader commitment to deliver clean water for every American,” the White House said in a press release. “The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests over $50 billion to upgrade water infrastructure—the largest investment in clean water in American history.”

The new standard for drinking water promises major changes in communities across the country, as the press release explained that “these actions will help tackle PFAS pollution that has devastated communities like Oakdale, outside of St. Paul, MN, where decades of PFAS-containing waste dumped by a chemical plant has contaminated the community’s drinking water. In this area, cancer was found to be a far more likely cause of death in children than in neighboring areas. The funding announced today will build on funding from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that is already helping communities address PFAS contamination, including a $33 million award for Tucson, AZ to treat its PFAS-contaminated drinking water wells.”

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