Biden-Harris Admin to establish national standards for protecting drinking water against PFAS

March 30, 2023 | Environmental Lab

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, are a group of man-made chemical that is prominent in a variety of industrial and consumer products due to their unique properties, such as resistance to heat, water, and oil.

Currently, PFAS raises a growing concern as the substances do not break down easily in the environment, particularly those that mix with potable and drinking water streams, which we may be consumed in the human body and causes adverse health conditions in the long run.

The Biden-Harris Administration on Monday, March 13, 2023, released the proposal to create national standard actions to combat PFAS pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been duly delegated to materialize the state efforts to limit PFAs by establishing legally enforceable levels for the six PFAS known to occur in drinking water.

“Communities across this country have suffered far too long from the ever-present threat of PFAS pollution. That’s why President Biden launched a whole-of-government approach to aggressively confront these harmful chemicals, and EPA is leading the way forward. [Such] action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants.” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.

Upon finalization of the proposal, EPA will enforce to regulate of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) as individual contaminants and will regulate four other PFAS – PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals – as a mixture.

The proposed regulation will forward by requiring public water systems to monitor for these chemicals. Moreover, it also requires the same system to notify the public and reduce PFAS contamination if levels exceed the proposed regulatory standards.

The significant milestone in combating PFAS pollution and safeguarding drinking water from the Biden-Harris Administration gained public support and appreciation, from various environmental groups and legislative bodies including the Bipartisan Congressional PFAS task force, Clean Cape Fear, and more.

New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen expressed in a press release, “This has long been a top concern for me and is why as a lead negotiator of the water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, I fought to include a historic level of funding – $10 billion – to combat PFAS exposure. These dollars will be crucial in providing our municipalities with the resources they will need to comply with these new regulations so that together we can prioritize clean water for our communities. As this process moves forward and with the anticipation of the rule being finalized, I urge the Biden administration to move swiftly and ensure the timely allocation of funds from the infrastructure bill to assist public water operators as they begin work to meet these new enforceable drinking water levels.”

A month ago, EPA announced President Biden’s $2 billion funding via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address pressing issues on drinking water contaminants, including PFAS, across the United States. When the guidelines are fully implemented, EPA vows its commitment to taking broader actions to help reduce Americans’ exposure to PFAS.

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