STATEMENT: EPA acts to protect drinking water from PFAS

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday proposed the first national standards to limit six of the chemicals collectively known as PFAS that too often contaminate U.S. drinking water. The EPA says that “if fully implemented,” the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation, which it expects to finalize by the end of 2023, “will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses.”

The EPA says the rule would require public water systems to monitor their water for six specific PFAS, notify the public of these PFAS levels in their water and reduce the levels of these PFAS in drinking water when they exceed the proposed standard. The EPA is requesting public comment on the proposal.

PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they barely break down at all in the natural environment. According to the EPA, PFAS exposure, even in small amounts over time, is linked to serious health problems including cancer, thyroid disruption and reduced vaccine response. PFAS are used in a wide variety of water- and grease-resistant products, from raincoats and food packaging to carpets and cookware, as well as firefighting foam. They can be discharged into waterways during the manufacture or use of these products, ending up in our food and water, and ultimately, our bodies. 

In response to the EPA decision, experts from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center released the following statements:

Pervasive PFAS should be a thing of the past and this EPA proposal puts us on the right path,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale. “Too many Americans are exposed every day to these ubiquitous chemicals that lurk around our house and in our pipes. Saying ‘nevermore’ to ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water is the right thing to do. These new standards are a realistic way to start that process.”

Today, the EPA is taking a vital step toward protecting our drinking water from the toxic scourge of PFAS, said Environment America Research & Policy Center Senior Clean Water Campaign Director John Rumpler. “The best way to ensure that forever chemicals never exceed the EPA’s health-based limits in our drinking water is to stop using them.”