National PFAS standards are needed to protect our drinking water
In a recent Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works hearing, federal lawmakers, state officials and advocates called for federal action to reduce public exposure to family members of the substances per – and polyfluoroalkyls (or PFAS) considered to present a risk to health.
Perhaps the most effective way to achieve this goal is for the Environmental Protection Agency to establish national drinking water standards for specific PFASs that meet key criteria of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents companies active in the field of chemistry, supports the establishment of standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) under the SDWA federal, as per the recent EPA announcement.
National standards can eliminate confusion
The good news is that over a decade ago the manufacture of PFOA and PFOS was voluntarily phased out in the United States. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported from sampling that the levels of human exposure to these substances have dropped significantly. Additionally, a national drinking water survey conducted by the EPA from 2013 to 2015 indicated that less than 2% of public drinking water supplies in the United States had detectable levels of these chemicals.
Still, more can be done, and developing national standards for these specific PFASs should give Americans greater confidence in the safety of the water they drink and help remove some of the confusion caused by the mosaic. state actions that have been announced in recent years. month.
SDWA standards, called “maximum contaminant levels” or MCL, are the maximum allowable level of a substance in drinking water that can be delivered to any user of a public water system. When developing MCLs, EPA takes into account the potential health effects of a substance, the extent of exposure to the substance in drinking water, and the technology available to remove the substance.
Lifetime Health Notice (LHA) for information only
Although it takes some time to develop LCMs for PFOA and PFOS, the EPA currently has Lifetime Health Advisories (LHAs) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS. One part per trillion is roughly equivalent to a single drop of water in 20 Olympic swimming pools.
While these values are higher than those established by some states, they are somewhat lower than those developed by Health Canada, which recently identified limits of 200ppt for PFOA and 600ppt for PFOS. These LHAs can serve as a guide for states and communities as federal drinking water standards are developed. LHAs can also be a more effective alternative to state initiatives.
A patchwork of state rules is likely to be inconsistent with each other, may not reflect the best science available, and therefore could potentially confuse the public and subsequently undermine public confidence in the safety of their water.
While some have suggested that SDWA standards can be applied class-wide, such a holistic and holistic approach to PFAS regulation is fundamentally unscientific and unwarranted.
If ongoing research at the EPA identifies concerns about other PFAS or groups of PFAS, the ACC would support the development of appropriate regulations to reduce exposure to these substances. We also commend Senate legislators for their continued oversight of EPA activities related to PFAS chemicals.
Today’s PFAS are a diverse universe of chemistries that make possible the products that power our lives: semiconductors, cell phones, tablets, and the telecommunications we use every day to connect with our friends and our family ; the aircraft that propels the US military; alternative energy sources essential to sustainability goals; and the medical devices that help us stay healthy.
In addition, in the United States, there is an explicitly established regulatory process for new PFAS chemistries under which new PFAS substances are subject to testing requirements and controls to allow them to enter the market.
CCA will continue to work on strong, science-based regulations that protect public health and our environment while continuing to provide consumers with the important products they rely on. Americans need to know that their drinking water is safe; a patchwork of rules from one state to another is not the way to achieve this. Let’s follow the science and act on it.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.
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Steve risotto is a senior director of the American Chemistry Council, based in Washington, DC. He is the main staff involved in federal and state policy on PFOA and PFOS and other per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS).