WASHINGTON — Following pressure from lawmakers and groups such as Environment America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed today to begin setting enforceable drinking water standards on two toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:
“Americans deserve drinking water that is free of toxic chemicals. We commend the EPA for listening to the community, incorporating critical feedback, and responding appropriately to protect our drinking water from PFAS contamination.
“The EPA released its “PFAS Management Plan” last week, which outlined its response to the widespread problem but notably excluded protective standards for drinking water. With these first federal drinking water standards for toxic PFAS chemicals, we would especially like to thank Sen. Tom Carper, whose efforts were crucial in securing this commitment from EPA.
“However, we cannot forget that these are just initial baby steps. Much remains unclear about EPA’s plans. We don’t know if the levels they pursue will truly protect the health of Americans, and the timeline is only beginning to take shape. We are also concerned that this move only deals with cleanup and not prevention—and addresses just two of the thousands of toxic PFAS chemicals.
“From here, we must continue to press for greater protection from these deeply dangerous compounds. We should work toward a health-based limit on all PFAS chemicals in drinking water, and promote policies that help communities to clean up and hold polluters accountable. Ultimately, we must phase out these chemicals in favor of safer alternatives.”