EPA Approves National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for Six PFAS Chemicals

On April 8, 2024, the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for six perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. On April 10, 2024, the EPA announced that the NPDWR for the six PFAS chemicals has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register. 

This enforceable rule requires public water systems to monitor for these chemicals and reduce the levels of these chemicals if they exceed the maximum contaminant level, as well as notify the public of levels. 

PFAS refers to a class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom. These substances are found in products such as fire-retardant foam, carpets, fabrics, food packaging, and materials designed to be waterproof, stain-resistant or non-stick.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about possible adverse health impacts from exposure to PFAS.  Exposure through drinking water is of particular concern due to the tendency of PFAS to accumulate in groundwater.

The maximum contaminant levels announced for the 6 regulated PFAS are as follows:

  • The limit is 4 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid). 
  • For three other PFAS chemicals, perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxs) and HFPO-DA (commonly referred to as GenX Chemicals), the limit is 10 ppt. The EPA will use a hazard index to regulate mixtures of these chemicals.

The EPA estimates implementation of the new rule will cost approximately $1.5 billion per year but announced approximately $1 billion in funding will be available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states implement PFAS testing and treatment of local water systems.

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