EPA’s New Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Regulations

by | Apr 18, 2024


For many decades, Americans have unknowingly been exposed to toxic chemicals, including those called “forever chemicals,” like per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), with no oversight from the government. These chemicals are known to have a negative impact on the liver, heart, and immune system and cause developmental damage in infants and children. They have also been linked to many deadly cancers. On April 10, 2024, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first national and enforceable drinking water standard meant to protect communities from the dangers of PFAS.


Established New Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water

The National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) established Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six PFAS contaminants in drinking water. The limits are as follows:

  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) contaminants are set at a maximum of 4.0 parts per trillion.
  • Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO–DA or GenX) are limited to 10 parts per trillion.
  • Mixtures containing PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO–DA, and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) are limited to one (unitless) Hazard Index. The Hazard Index is a number-based scoring system used to determine the dangers associated with certain substances. According to EPA, it is calculated as follows:


Importance of the New Regulations

Drinking water standards are a huge milestone in confronting public health issues caused by PFAS pollution. The new standards strengthen these initiatives and ensure that communities throughout the country have access to clean, safe drinking water for generations to come.


Final Rule Requirements

The final rule requires operators of public water systems to monitor water for PFAS. The initial monitoring of PFAS levels must be completed by 2027. Water systems must also provide the public with data on the PFAS levels in drinking water at the beginning of 2027.

Public water systems have until 2029 to implement measures that reduce PFAS when monitoring has shown that these chemicals exceed the MCLs. Furthermore, the rule requires operators of such systems to notify the public of the exposure.

Some of the technologies that are available for reducing PFAS in drinking water include activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange systems.


Funding Available to Address PFAS in Drinking Water

The EPA, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is making $12 billion available for communities to improve drinking water systems. There is an additional $9 billion allocated specifically to tackle the problem of PFAS in drinking water.

The money was allocated because the EPA believes that 6% to 10% of the 66,000 public drinking water systems that this rule will impact will need to take action to be in compliance with the new rule.

If you want to understand more about this new PFAS regulation and how you can ensure your system is in compliance, contact Walden today at 516-271-1948. Our staff keep themselves apprised of changes to PFAS regulations at local, state, and federal levels, and we can help you adhere to the new standards.

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Contact Walden at 516-271-1948 to speak with our water quality experts about how the new federal PFAS requirements may impact your drinking water system.