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Consumer Reports Praises EPA’s Proposed Limits on PFAS in Drinking Water

Proposal is important step in effort to protect public from widespread “forever chemical” contamination in nation’s drinking water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New limits proposed by the EPA on certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water represent a significant step forward in the effort to protect the public from these toxic chemicals, according to Consumer Reports. There are currently no enforceable limits set by the EPA for PFAS, which contaminate municipal water systems across the country.

PFAS are used in hundreds of products to make them resistant to heat, water, oil and corrosion and can seep into water from factories, landfills and other sources.  The compounds are sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they are resistant to breaking down naturally in the environment, and can remain in people’s bodies for years.

“PFAS chemicals pose a silent threat to the health of millions of Americans who are routinely exposed to these toxins in the drinking water they depend on every day,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy for Consumer Reports. “No one should have to worry about ingesting toxic forever chemicals in the water they drink every time they turn on the tap at home.”

Ronholm continued, “We’re pleased that the EPA has proposed strict limits on these PFAS chemicals based on the best science available and look forward to supporting these standards in the months ahead. We urge the EPA to do all it can to finalize these rules by the end of the year.”

Under the proposal announced today, the EPA would adopt a limit of 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) as individual contaminants. A number of studies have identified the health risks posed by exposure to PFOA and PFOS, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy and to breastfed infants, cancer, liver damage, and immune system suppression. Separately, the EPA is proposing a limit for mixtures of four other PFAS compounds – PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals.

The EPA’s proposed rule would require municipal water systems to monitor for the six PFAS, notify the public about the levels detected in the water, and reduce levels that exceed the proposed standards.

A joint investigation by Consumer Reports and the Guardian US news organization of the nation’s drinking water in 2021 found widespread contamination with PFAS. Of the 120 water samples collected from households across the country, CR found that more than a third had PFAS levels above 10 ppt, and more than a quarter exceeded 5 ppt for a single PFAS chemical.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org, 415-902-9537