US Makes Moves to Limit Use of Forever Chemicals

( – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will impose limits nationwide on various harmful chemicals discovered in tap water around the country.

On Wednesday, April 10, a new rule was finalized by EPA officials that will require local governments to take measures to remove six different per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water systems. According to recent studies, millions of people in the US likely consume PFAS chemicals in their water. These synthetic organofluorine compounds may be linked to other health issues.

To cover the extra costs, the federal government will allocate an additional $1 billion to the EPA, which said in a statement that the new rule would be beneficial for Americans’ health.

Michael Regan, an administrator for the EPA, said that communities across the country have been “plagued” by contaminated water filled with PFAS “for too long.” Regan said he was “proud to finalize” what he called a “critical piece” of the EPA’s roadmap, which he claims will “save thousands of lives” as well as ensure that American children “grow up healthier.”

According to the EPA, of 66,000 public water systems across the country, between 6% and 10% tested positive for harmful levels of contamination by PFAS, of which there are thousands of variations. These pollutants are used in many everyday products, repelling grease, oil, and water, and are nicknamed “forever chemicals.” They’ve been linked to cancer and other issues, such as reproductive problems and immune disorders, and the EPA says there are almost no safe levels of exposure.

Under the new regulations, local municipalities will have a period of three years to monitor water systems for PFAS. If harmful levels of these chemicals are discovered, the local government will have a period of five years to reduce levels to an acceptable measurement. This will benefit communities with poor-quality drinking water, but it may also harm smaller towns, which may be unable to afford the new treatment systems.

A 2021 infrastructure law passed by the Biden administration will make $9 billion in funds available to assist communities with addressing the PFAS problem, and another $12 billion will go toward general improvements of drinking water systems.

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