Marketplace Logo Donate

Daily business news and economic stories from Marketplace

EPA proposes new limits on forever chemicals in drinking water

Heard on:

The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

get the podcast

The Biden administration is proposing the first standards aimed at making drinking water safe from so-called “forever chemicals”.

Also known as PFAS, these chemicals are found in everything from waterproof clothing to aircraft parts.

The Environmental Protection Agency calls its proposal a “major step” towards protecting Americans from these chemicals and would place enforceable limits on forever chemicals for the first time, according to Eric Burneson, Director of Standards and Risk Management at the EPA’s Office of Water.

“This is really a historic moment,” he said. “The agency has been working for some years now to develop this proposed regulation.”

Burneson said the same properties that make forever chemicals so useful also mean they linger — in the environment and in the human body — and can cause serious health problems including cancer.

“I want to applaud the EPA for coming out with sensible limits to these forever chemicals,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of the environmental advocacy group Seneca Lake Guardian.

The group is based in New York’s Finger Lakes, which provide drinking water to 1.5 million people.

“Fish in many of these waters contain high levels of forever chemicals,” Taylor said. “So if it’s in the fish, it’s in our drinking water.”

But the American Chemical Council, an industry trade group, says it worries about compliance costs, which could be in the billions of dollars.

For utilities, supply chain concerns also loom large, said Stephanie Schlea, senior water policy advisor at the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators.

“Are they going to have the materials needed to get all of this up and running in time for the compliance date of the rule?,” she said.

Nevertheless, Schlea said the EPA’s proposed standards provide new clarity and consistency.

What's Next

Latest Episodes From Our Shows

7:33 AM PDT
2:38 AM PDT
1:43 PM PDT
Mar 27, 2023
Mar 27, 2023
Mar 22, 2023
Dec 8, 2022
Exit mobile version