Biden Administration Finalizes Limits On ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Water

The Biden administration recently finalized limits on so-called “forever chemicals” in drinking water. These restrictions require utilities to reduce the chemicals to the lowest measurable level. Officials said this would reduce exposure for millions of people while helping to reduce illnesses, including cancers.

The rule marks the first national drinking water limit on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are widespread and last long in the environment, according to The Washington Times.

Health advocates praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its continued support of tough limits. Water utilities spoke out against the rule, arguing that treatment systems are expensive to install and that customers will have to pay more money for water.

The Washington Times pointed out that water providers must adapt to the significant health standards that the EPA argues will make water safer for millions of consumers. The agency has also urged utilities to remove toxic lead pipes.

Water utility groups have warned that the rules would cost billions of dollars, impacting smaller communities lacking resources.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the rule is the most important move the agency has made against PFAS.

“The result is a comprehensive and life changing rule, one that will improve the health and vitality of so many communities across the country,” Regan said.

PFAS chemicals are said to be dangerous because they don’t break down in the environment and are linked to serious health issues like low birth weight and kidney cancer. These substances are used in everyday products, such as nonstick pans, waterproof clothing and firefighting foam. Although most of the chemicals have been eliminated in the U.S., some remain.

“It’s that accumulation that’s the problem,” a North Carolina State University professor known for researching the toxicity of PFAS chemicals, Scott Belcher, said. “Even tiny, tiny, tiny amounts each time you take a drink of water over your lifetime is going to keep adding up, leading to the health effects.”

“Reducing PFAS in our drinking water is the most cost effective way to reduce our exposure,” an official at the Environmental Working Group, Scott Faber, said. “It’s much more challenging to reduce other exposures such as PFAS in food or clothing or carpets.”