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AFBF: Rural America can't afford new EPA PFAS rule

Posted on Apr 18, 2024 at 3:27 AM

On April 10, the EPA issued what it called the “first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard,” which establishes limits on amounts of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly referred to as ‘forever chemicals.’

The EPA also announced nearly $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination.

Still, Farm Bureau voiced concerns over the cost of implementing the rule. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented on the rule, which sets maximum contaminant levels at 4 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS and 10 parts per trillion for PFNA, PFHxS and HFPO-DA.

“Rural America shares the goal of ensuring the water we use to raise our families and grow our crops is healthy. Unfortunately, EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Regulation will disproportionally impact small communities, which lack the resources of large metropolitan systems, but will still be on the hook to pay the exorbitant costs of treating their water for PFAS chemicals.

“While we acknowledge the effort EPA has made in providing flexibility and support to small and rural systems, more needs to be done to lessen the burden of this rulemaking. We all want clean drinking water, but there are households that will not be able to afford this.”

EPA is establishing legally enforceable levels for several PFAS known to occur individually and as mixtures in drinking water. This rule sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”). The rule also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.”

All public water systems have three years to complete their initial monitoring for these chemicals. They must inform the public of the level of PFAS measured in their drinking water. Where PFAS is found at levels that exceed these standards, systems must implement solutions to reduce PFAS in their drinking water within five years.

For more details about the final PFAS drinking water standards can be found here.

For PFOA and PFOS, EPA is setting a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health impacts, including certain cancers.

EPA is setting enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in our drinking water to the lowest levels that are feasible for effective implementation.

For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.

Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

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