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EPA sets historic drinking water standard to combat PFAS pollution

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  • Staff Report 

The Biden-Harris Administration, in a groundbreaking move, has established the first-ever national drinking water standard aimed at safeguarding communities from the dangers of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” Announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this legally enforceable standard is a significant milestone in the administration’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, designed to mitigate public health risks associated with PFAS exposure. These substances have been linked to a range of serious health issues, including various cancers, liver and heart diseases, and developmental harm to infants and children.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan, alongside White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, unveiled the new standard in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where the Cape Fear River—a drinking water source for over a million residents—was found heavily contaminated with PFAS from a nearby facility in 2017. This rule aims to reduce PFAS exposure for around 100 million Americans, preventing thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of illnesses. The announcement is part of a broader effort initiated by President Biden in October 2021 to address PFAS contamination through a comprehensive government-wide action plan.

In addition to setting this critical standard, the EPA has also announced the allocation of nearly $1 billion in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist in PFAS testing, treatment, and contamination efforts across public water systems and private wells. This investment is part of a larger $9 billion commitment to combat drinking water contamination by PFAS and other emerging contaminants, marking the most substantial national effort to address PFAS pollution to date. The announcement has been met with support from lawmakers like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who has been vocal in the fight against PFAS contamination and played a role in paving the way for this historic regulatory action.