Drinking water in Bucks and Montgomery counties in eastern Pennsylvania is contaminated with PfAS. Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Getty Images
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As awareness grows about the spread and health effects of perpetually toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), more and more US states are taking steps to regulate them. .
The latest is Pennsylvania, which on January 14 announced legal limits for the two most prevalent types of PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), in drinking water. bottom.
“This final form of rulemaking protects public health by setting state MCLs. [Maximum Contaminant Levels] Contaminants in drinking water that are not currently regulated at the federal level,” the rule reads. “With this final rulemaking, the federal government has moved ahead of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in tackling PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, allowing states to set regulatory limits on selected PFAS in drinking water. I joined a small group.”
PFAS are a class of chemicals that have been used since the 1940s in products such as firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, and stain and water resistant products. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the human body or the environment and are found everywhere from rainwater to cord blood. It is also associated with many health effects, including cancer, developmental disorders, and immunosuppression.
Both PFOA and PFOS have been phased out of active use in the United States, but continue to persist in the environment. PFOA is associated with liver, testicular, breast and pancreatic tumors, and PFOS is associated with birth defects and cancer.
New Pennsylvania regulations limit PFOA to 14ppt (ppt) and PFOS to 18ppt in drinking water. The rule applies to 3,117 water systems in the state. This includes community, bottled, bulk and retail drinking water, according to regulations. The new rule also establishes standards for testing drinking water, reporting results, and purifying contaminated water, Patch reports.
Pennsylvania has suffered from PFAS contamination in the past. In 2021, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said that about a third of his more than 400 sites assessed had tested positive for one of her PFAS chemicals, he reportedly reported to AP News. Did. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe signed his 2018 executive order to investigate and address contamination as described in the regulation because the federal government has lagged behind in responding to his PFAS regulations. created his multi-agency PFAS Action Team for The work creates new limits.
“Since Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order in 2018, the DEP has been committed to protecting Pennsylvanians from the adverse effects of PFAS. The new MCL is a step in the right direction,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziade, as reported by Patch.
According to Toxic-Free Future, 14 states have adopted 33 policies related to PFAS in 2022. The new rule states that seven states — Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Washington — have set limits on drinking water for at least one chemical. is referring to
Although there are no mandatory drinking water limits for PFAS at the federal level, the EPA updated its safety guidance for PFOA and PFOS from 70 ppt to nearly zero in June 2022. It also proposed regulating both chemicals under the Superfund Act.