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EPA Proposes Limits on PFAS in Drinking Water

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by Patrick J. Paul

On March 14, 2023, EPA announced the  first ever national drinking water standard for PFAS via its proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six specific PFAS including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA, commonly known as GenX Chemicals), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS). The proposed PFAS NPDWR does not require any actions until it is finalized.

PFAS have been used in a variety of consumer products since the 1940s including  clothing, carpeting, food packaging, and other products like non-stick pans. Once valued as an effective means to repel water, grease, and the elements of weather, PFAS have more recently come under increasing scrutiny because they persist in the environment and hence are known as “forever chemicals,”  are believed to be in almost 99% of the US population, and are alleged to be linked to certain health problems.

The NPDWR will establish legally enforceable  Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for six PFAS in drinking water, namely PFOA and PFOS as individual contaminants and GenX Chemicals as a PFAS mixture.  The proposed rule, expected to be finalized later this year  would require public water systems to monitor for these PFAS, notify the public of the levels of these PFAS and reduce the levels of these PFAS in drinking water if they exceed the proposed standards.

EPA will be holding two informational webinars about the proposed PFAS NDPWR on March 16, 2023, and March 29, 2023.