The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Seth Gladstone -

PFAS Drinking Water Limits Are First Step to Safer Water, But Polluters Must Be Held Accountable

Today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the final regulations that set enforceable limits on six PFAS — the toxic lab-made compounds known as “forever chemicals” — in drinking water. The EPA set maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS of 4 ppt each; MCLs for PFHxS, PFNA and GenX at 10 ppt, and limits on a combination of four PFAS types (PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX) based on a hazard index. Utilities will have five years to comply with the new limits.

Water systems serving at least 100 million people are expected to be contaminated with PFAS, and the new rule requires water systems to complete testing within three years. The EPA estimates the total cost of compliance would be $1.5 billion a year; the American Water Works Association puts that figure closer to $3.8 billion.

The EPA has yet to finalize regulations that would designate certain forms of PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the superfund law to facilitate holding polluters accountable for clean-up costs. This topic has been the subject of heavy lobbying from the chemical industry. A Food & Water Watch report found that from 2019 to 2022, PFAS manufacturers spent more than $55 million lobbying on PFAS and other issues, and the American Chemical Council spent an additional $58.7 on lobbying on PFAS and other issues during that period.

In response, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“At long last, the EPA has set enforceable limits to remove toxic forever chemicals from drinking water that will help protect public health nationally. These regulations come after decades of community organizing and will save many lives. While we applaud the EPA for not bowing to industry pressure to weaken the regulations, this must mark the beginning — not the culmination — of its efforts to rein in these toxic PFAS.

“The science is clear: No amount of PFAS in water is safe. Today’s action addresses just six of thousands of these toxic chemicals. The EPA must regulate the entire class to remove all PFAS from our drinking water, ban the manufacture of nonessential PFAS, and hold polluters accountable to pay to clean up their toxic mess. The brunt of the compliance costs must be borne by the PFAS polluters, so that households already struggling with unaffordable water bills are not stuck picking up the tab of corporate water pollution.

“Corporate polluters long hid evidence of the toxicity of these chemicals, and they have spent millions of dollars lobbying against regulations that would protect people from this harm. Congress must reject corporate efforts to carve various polluters out of liability, and it must pass the PFAS Action Act to continue the work to address this toxic crisis.

“Communities also need more federal support to comply with these necessary new standards. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a down payment of $9 billion to address PFAS in drinking water, but our communities deserve a permanent source of federal funding. The WATER Act is the right vision to fully fund our public water infrastructure at the level that is needed to ensure safe and clean water for all.”

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

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