At the urging of lawmakers and our national network, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took a small step toward cleaning up our drinking water.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are toxic chemicals that threaten the drinking water of 110 million Americans. When the EPA's PFAS management plan failed to set enforceable standards, Environment Illinois Research & Education Center called for stronger action—as did lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. On Feb. 19, the EPA reversed course and agreed to set drinking water standards for the two best-understood PFAS contaminants.
"We commend the EPA for listening to the community," said Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for our national network. "However, these are just initial steps. We should work toward a health-based limit on all PFAS chemicals in drinking water, and promote policies that help communities clean up and hold polluters accountable.”
PFAS chemicals—common components of nonstick cookware, firefighting foam and more—have been found in drinking water across the country, and are linked to cancer and other health problems.
Photo: The Delaware River is among the waterways contaminated by toxic PFAS chemicals. Nationwide, PFAS contamination has been found from Michigan to North Carolina, endangering up to 110 million Americans. Credit: Mwanner via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)