EPA Finalizes PFAS Rule for Drinking Water

ACC also gives its response to the rule.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

April 10, 2024

3 Min Read
EPA finalizes PFAS drinking water rule
The federal government is pushing billions into the drinking water rule.Deagreez / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

EPA has announced the first National Drinking Water Standard and a $1B investment through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to address the issue.

Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA is also making unprecedented funding available to help ensure that all people have clean and safe water. In addition to today’s final rule, EPA is announcing nearly $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination. This is part of a $9 billion investment through the law to help communities with drinking water impacted by PFAS and other emerging contaminants. An additional $12 billion also is available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for general drinking water improvements, including addressing emerging contaminants like PFAS.

“Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities across this country for too long,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “That is why President Biden has made tackling PFAS a top priority, investing historic resources to address these harmful chemicals and protect communities nationwide. Our PFAS Strategic Roadmap marshals the full breadth of EPA’s authority and resources to protect people from these harmful forever chemicals. Today, I am proud to finalize this critical piece of our Roadmap, and in doing so, save thousands of lives and help ensure our children grow up healthier.”  

EPA is taking a step to protect public health by establishing legally enforceable levels for several PFAS known to occur individually and as mixtures in drinking water. This rule sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”). The rule also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.” By reducing exposure to PFAS, proponents say this final rule will prevent premature deaths, serious illnesses, including certain cancers and liver and heart impacts in adults, and immune and developmental impacts to infants and children.

ACC Has a Say

As an organization representing hundreds of chemical companies nationwide, the American Chemistry Council opposes the rule and says there are serious concerns with the science used to develop the Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for the regulation. ACC goes on to state:

“These concerns have been validated by peer-reviewed research that also calls into question the basis for EPA’s overly conservative approach to assessing one of the health endpoints. Even EPA’s own Science Advisory Board severely criticized much of the underlying science behind the proposed standards.

“Furthermore, around the country, local governments, water agencies, and concerned organizations have commented on the proposal and raised many of the same concerns presented by ACC. The American Water Works Association has also found that this will cost almost $4 billion annually – several times more than what EPA estimated. These new regulations also fail to accurately assess the benefits to local communities and don’t take into account other higher-priority water and infrastructure issues for local water systems.

“Since this proposal was first announced, new real-world data has become available through national monitoring that confirms the rationale for this proposal is based on inaccurate and out-of-date information. Failure to incorporate this data into the final rule means that the number of small water systems that will be impacted by the new standard is three times higher than EPA estimated, forcing them to divert critical resources away from other higher-priority drinking water needs.

“We strongly support the establishment of a science-based drinking water standard, but this rushed, unscientific approach is unacceptable when it comes to an issue as important as access to safe drinking water. We strongly oppose this rule and will be working with the broad range of concerned stakeholders to determine next steps.”

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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