US EPA plans to regulate two chemicals in drinking water

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has plans to regulate two chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), in the drinking water.

These two chemicals form part of a class of chemicals called PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

The PFAS chemicals, which are usually found in non-stick coatings and firefighting foam, cause health problems including cancer and higher cholesterol.

EPA announced the “preliminary regulatory determination” under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is considered to be the final step before the agency proposes restrictions on the release of the two chemicals in drinking water and groundwater. This announcement could, however, may come months later.

The regulatory agency will accept comments for 60 days once its preliminary finding is published.

Currently, EPA recommends that water should not contain more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS. However, it is a recommendation and not mandatory, and according to several health advocates, this figure is too high.

Due to the absence of EPA action, several states have passed their own laws requiring lower levels of PFAS for drinking water.

Environmental Working Group official Melanie Benesh said, “This decision shows that an avalanche of public pressure and overwhelming science is finally forcing EPA to act.”