In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new initiative to protect the drinking water consumed by Americans. The Agency took a big step in implementing its PFAS Action plan that proposes regulatory actions for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water.
Additionally, the EPA is proposing not to regulate six other contaminants — 1,1-dichloroethane, acetochlor, methyl bromide, metolachlor, nitrobenzene, and RDX. The EPA will seek public comment on these preliminary determinations for a period of 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.
About PFOS and PFOA
Part of a larger group of chemicals called per- and polyfluroalkyl substances, PFOS and PFOA are extremely fluorinated aliphatic molecules. These chemicals are released through industrial manufacturing and by the use and disposal of products containing PFAS. These chemicals are located in soil, air, and groundwater throughout the United States.
PFOS and PFOA have been found in drinking water supplies, according to the EPA. This has typically occurred at manufacturing locations and with industrial use or disposal.
Studies conducted by the EPA have determined that certain levels of exposure to PFOA and PFOS can cause a number of adverse health effects. These include developmental issues in unborn babies and breastfed infants, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid damage, and other health concerns.
Safe Water Drinking Act
Originally established in 1974, the Safe Water Drinking Act was designed to protect the quality of U.S. drinking water. The law covers all water currently used for drinking or that could be used for drinking — both above ground and underground sources.
This Act allows the EPA to create and maintain minimum standards to protect tap water. It also requires those who own or operate public water systems to comply with health-related standards put in place.
In 1996, an amendment was put in place that requires the EPA to consider a detailed risk and cost assessment and the best available peer-reviewed science when creating SWDA standards.
State governments can also be appointed to implement these rules for the EPA. They encourage the attainment of secondary — nuisance-related — standards. The EPA also creates minimum standards for state programs to protect underground drinking water sources from being tainted by underground fluid injections.