New proposal to limit ‘chemicals forever’ in drinking water
March 15, 2023 — The Environmental Protection Agency is propose a new rule this would greatly limit the concentration of endocrine disrupting chemicals “forever” in drinking water.
The EPA on Tuesday announced the proposed National Primary Drinking Water Rule (NPDWR) for six polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS, which are man-made chemicals used as oil and water repellents and coatings for common products including kitchen utensils, carpets and textiles. These substances are also widely used in cosmetics and food packaging.
The Endocrine Society, which represents more than 18,000 physicians who treat hormonal disorders, says fully supports the new EPA proposal.
She explains that these substances, also called endocrine disruptors, “do not break down when released into the environment and continue to build up over time. They pose health hazards at incredibly low levels and have been linked to endocrine disorders such as cancer, thyroid disorders and reproductive difficulties.
“This is the first time the government has regulated a new chemical in drinking water in more than 30 years,” the company notes, adding that it “will require significant upgrades to water treatment in public services across the country.
Roberet F. Powelson, president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies, said tackling PFAS in the nation’s water supply would cost “billions of dollars.” Yes
“It’s a burden that, under the current structure, will fall disproportionately on water and wastewater customers in small communities and low-income families,” Powelson said. in a report.. He says responsibility should instead lie with “polluters” – those who make and use PFAS chemicals, who “should be held directly liable for cleanup costs.”
Although the EPA proposes a maximum health-based contaminant level goal of zero for these chemicals in drinking water, it recognizes that this is unenforceable and has therefore set what it considers an enforceable level, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), of 4 parts per trillion for two of the PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).
A different standard has been proposed for the remaining four chemicals: perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA) – collectively known as GenX chemicals – the acid perfluorohexane sulfonic (PFHxS) and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS).
EPA officials said The Washington Post that these proposed limits would be as strong or stronger than the limits of about a dozen states that have set their own drinking water standards in recent years.
“Experts here felt that was the level of rigor required to protect public health, and that the law would allow us to,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told the newspaper. “This is a transformative action that we are taking.”
The EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed rulemaking and will hold a public hearing on May 4, which members of the public can register to attend and comment on the proposed rule. The last day to register is April 28.
The EPA wants to finalize the regulations by the end of 2023, though delays are common on new rules.
If fully implemented, “the rule will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses attributable to PFAS,” the EPA statement said.