EPA Finalizes First Drinking Water Standard for PFAS

Published On: April 10, 2024By Categories: Newsline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on April 10 the final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six PFAS.

NGWA supported this drinking water PFAS standard in comments submitted to the EPA. While the drinking water standard doesn’t pertain to residential water wells, NGWA recommends the millions of Americans using water wells as their daily source of water to test and treat their water well systems for PFAS.

The Association has published a position paper, PFAS: The Truth About Private Water Wells and also has “PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know,” a two-page fact sheet that groundwater professionals can distribute to customers and others in their community concerned about PFAS.

“I applaud the passing of our nation’s first standard for PFAS as it will bring protection to our nation’s groundwater resources,” says NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “PFAS contamination affects all communities and impacts our environment and our health. This is an important day. Millions of people rely on water wells every day, and NGWA and its members will help ensure these groundwater sources are safe for years to come.”

The EPA is making unprecedented funding available to help ensure that all people have clean and safe water. In addition to the final rule, $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination.

“At these extremely low levels, the financial and technical support provided by the EPA and other governmental agencies will be critical to the ability of the nation’s more than 40 million private well owners to test, and as needed, effectively treat their water supply,” says NGWA Director of Science and Technology Bill Alley, Ph.D.

The EPA finalized a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) establishing legally enforceable levels, Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for six PFAS in drinking water. PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA as contaminants with individual MCLs, and PFAS mixtures containing at least two or more of PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS using a Hazard Index MCL to account for the combined and co-occurring levels of these PFAS in drinking water. The EPA also finalized health-based, non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for these PFAS.

  • For PFOA and PFOS, the EPA is setting MCLG, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health impacts, including certain cancers.
  • The EPA is setting enforceable MCLs at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in drinking water to the lowest levels that are feasible for effective implementation.
  • For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” the EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.
  • Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, the EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

The final rule requires:

  • Public water systems must monitor for these PFAS and have three years to complete initial monitoring (by 2027), followed by ongoing compliance monitoring. Water systems must also provide the public with information on the levels of these PFAS in their drinking water beginning in 2027.
  • Public water systems have five years (by 2029) to implement solutions that reduce these PFAS if monitoring shows that drinking water levels exceed these MCLs.
  • Beginning in five years (2029), public water systems that have PFAS in drinking water which violates one or more of these MCLs must take action to reduce levels of these PFAS in their drinking water and must provide notification to the public of the violation.

Click here to read more.

NGWA has long been an industry leader in providing PFAS research, education, and resources to the public and scientific communities. Learn more by visiting NGWA.org/PFAS, which is a complete resource center about the groundwater contaminants featuring a recently updated top-10 facts sheet, a position paper, and more.

The Association is hosting, Groundwater in the PFAS Era: Stressors, Protection, and Compliance Conference, April 16-17 in Tucson, Arizona. Click here to learn more.

“NGWA and its membership have spent a tremendous amount of time and resources advocating for a national PFAS standard in Washington, D.C.,” Morse says. “Today, we finally see the results of those efforts and are one step closer to a level playing field for our industry and more importantly, cleaner and safer water for all Americans. There is still a lot of work to do, but I applaud all of those who worked so hard over the years to make this new national standard a reality.”

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