EPA announces PFAS water pollution measures

EPA addresses impact of PFAS on public health © shutterstock/VladKK

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made four official announcements relating to the impacts on drinking water of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These substances – commonly termed ‘forever chemicals’ – are organic, man-made chemicals, used for various applications, that are persistent in the environment and present numerous risks to health including cancers, reduced birth weights, and adverse effects on the immune system.

The health advisories announced by the EPA were released under President Biden’s action plan for clean water and EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, in response to newly available science and in line with the EPA’s responsibility to protect public health. They provide technical information on contaminants in drinking water that can cause adverse effects on human health. This information can be used by federal, state, and local officials to assist development of monitoring plans, treatment solutions and future policy.

The EPA will also be inviting states and territories to apply for $1 billion to counter PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water, especially in small or disadvantaged communities that are on the frontlines of PFAS pollution. This funding package is the first of $5 billion that can be used to address PFAS in drinking water through measures such as technical assistance, water quality testing, contractor training, and installation of centralised treatment technologies and systems.

Both measures build on the EPA’s progress on safeguarding communities from PFAS pollution, while also informing forthcoming efforts, including the EPA’s proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS, which EPA will release in the latter part of 2022.

The EPA will be disseminating information within states and territories advising how they can submit a letter of intent to participate in this new programme, alongside consultations with Tribes and Alaskan Native Villages regarding the Tribal set-aside for the grant programme.

The funding complements $3.4 billion in funding that is available through Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) and $3.2 billion through the Clean Water SRFs, which can also be used to counter PFAS in water.

Find out more at: https://www.epa.gov/pfas/epa-actions-address-pfas