On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), publicly stated that they propose the limitation of “forever chemicals” in the US’ drinking water to be at the lowest level of detection. This proposal is long-waited and will hopefully save the lives of thousands and prevent serious illness among the masses. But, this plan may be too good to be true, how thoroughly are they going to test and sterilize the water? And what is the detected limitation?
These “forever chemicals” are a make up of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are found in a range of consumer and industrial products, such as non-stick pans, food packagings, and firefighter foam. These chemicals are released into the air, contaminating air quality and now our water and soil. Studies have now shown that wildlife around the world have been exposed to these “forever chemicals” – showing the extended traveling distance and just how potently non-biodegradable PFAS really are. So, the extensive research, testing, and cleansing of the PFAS in the water is going to have to be exponential and well thought out.
This plan marks the first time the EPA has sought out the regulation of any toxic compound groups that are widespread, hazardous, and expensive to remove. PFAS are linked to a broad variety of health risks, including respiratory issues, low birthweight in newborns, birth complications, and various cancers. For the eventual improval of safe drinking water across the US, this plan is seen as a “transformational change” in the world of national health protection. The EPA estimates the plan could reduce exposure to over 100 million Americans, decreasing the risk of any health complications. It would set strict limits for the detection of the two common types of PFAS at the lowest measurable level at four parts per trillion. Also measuring and regulating the combined amount of the other four types of PFAS. Independent water providers will have to monitor for PFAS. (This could leave room for error, depending on how diligent each provider is).
"This is a really historic moment. There are many communities that have had PFAS in their water for decades who have been waiting for a long time for this announcement to come out," stated Vice President of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group, Melanie Benesh.
This proposal would regulate the exposure of PFAS to vulnerable communities and groups, reducing the cumulative health threats to underserved areas – communities that may not have proper access to health care, clean resources, or viable agency protections. Many members who are labor workers are constantly exposed to industrial toxins and dangerous conditions. This proposal can give the opportunity to gain possible health security through one major survival component – water!
"Communities across this country have suffered far too long from the ever-present threat of PFAS pollution,″ stated EPA Administrator Michael Regan “The EPA's proposal could prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses….and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants."