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  • Writer's pictureTom Petersen

EPA Announces New Regulations for “Forever Chemicals”

Updated: Jun 26



In April, the EPA announced the first federal regulations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in drinking water.


PFAS are a class of nearly 15,000 synthetic compounds that are commonly known as “Forever Chemicals” because they do not break down and persist indefinitely. They accumulate in fish and wildlife, move through soils and spread through rainfall. These chemicals are linked to cancer, kidney disease, birth defects and many other serious ailments.


The new regulations, which go into effect on June 25th, set limits for six common PFAS. Eleven states, including Pennsylvania, already have their own limits for PFAS but they are not as strict as what the EPA has just laid out.



Type of PFAS

Current PA Limits

New EPA Limits

PFOA

14

4

PFOS

18

4

PFNA

No Limit

10

PFHxS

No Limit

10

HFPO-DA (GenX)

No Limit

10

Maximum Contaminant Limits (MCLs) for drinking water in Parts per Trillion (ppt)



Also included is a Hazard Index to address mixtures of any of the above PFAS along with PFBS.


Of special note are PFOA and PFOS which, although largely phased out, have recently been classified by the EPA as hazardous substances. This gives the EPA the authority not only to clean up contaminated areas but also to recover the cost of cleanup from polluters.


In Pennsylvania, where one third of drinking water systems tested positive for PFAS, DEP says they are working to bring the state in line with the new federal regulations. 


Water authorities looking to enhance their monitoring and treatment infrastructure can seek financial help from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST) or apply for one of the EPA’s Water Technical Assistance Programs.


Approximately 2.5 million Pennsylvania residents use private wells for drinking water, which are not subject to the EPA limits. DEP recommends that residents have a state-certified laboratory test their drinking water.


Content for this post was developed from this article by Kristina Marusic.

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