US proposes first limits on dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

US proposes first limits on dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

The US government is proposing the first-ever national standard for drinking water to protect Americans from dangerous “forever chemicals”.

The plan, laid out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday, would establish legally enforceable levels for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that are known to occur in drinking water.

PFAS are a type of manufactured chemicals that are linked to severe health problems, including cancer, if people are exposed over long periods of time. The substances infiltrate the air, drinking water and food supply, and disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities, the Biden administration noted.

The proposed regulation would require public water systems to monitor for these chemicals, and to notify communities if PFAS contamination exceeds the standard, and also take action to fix the problem.

EPA Administrator Michael S Regan said the potential rule could prevent tens of thousands of illnesses related to the hazardous substances.

Actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo said that the Biden administration was “putting our communities ahead of the polluters”.

“My message to polluters is simple: after poisoning your workers and neighbors for decades, it is time to make our public health, not your profits, our top priority. My message to communities devastated by PFAS pollution is equally simple: help is finally on the way,” he said, in a statement.

“No one should ever wonder if the PFAS in their tap water will one day make them sick,” said Emily Donovan, founder of the grassroots environmental campaign Clean Cape Fear.

“We all deserve access to health-protective drinking water. It’s a basic human right. We applaud the Biden EPA for having the courage to do what multiple administrations could not. Today, prayers were answered.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $9billion to cut PFAS and other contamination levels in drinking water.