EPA announces finalized water standards for “forever chemicals”

WASHINGTON, DC–Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final drinking water standards for six individual PFAS “forever chemicals” including PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, HFPO-DA (GenX), and PFBS. This is the first time that drinking water standards have been finalized for a new chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act since it was updated in 1996. The finalized drinking water standards are:

  • 4 parts per trillion for PFOA
  • 4 parts per trillion for PFOS
  • A standard based on the hazard of a mixture of four PFAS chemicals: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and HFPO-DA (commonly known as Gen X)
  • 10 parts per trillion for PFNA
  • 10 parts per trillion for PFHxS
  • 10 parts per trillion for HFPO-DA
  • EPA’s commitment comes after years of PFAS action by states and leading retailers nationwide.

Safer States and Toxic-Free Future applaud the adoption of record low drinking water standards for these PFAS chemicals and say PFAS are too harmful to be put into commerce. The following statements were released in response to this news.

“PFAS from an upstream chrome plating facility contaminated the drinking water source in my community,” said Robb Kerr, Ann Arbor community leader and Great Lakes PFAS Action Network member. “These EPA drinking water standards are long overdue for impacted community members across the country that have also dealt with PFAS pollution in their drinking water.”

“This is a huge victory. These new rules will give communities across America access to safer drinking water,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “For years, states have led the way in addressing PFAS contamination. We applaud the administration for stepping up to ensure that all states and communities have these protections.”

“Communities across the country are suffering the financial and health consequences of ongoing exposures to these highly toxic ‘forever chemicals,’” said Liz Hitchcock, federal policy program director for Toxic-Free Future. “We have got to prevent further pollution from PFAS, by ending their use in firefighting foams used by military and civilian firefighters and in consumer products like food packaging and textiles. Congress and the Administration must keep moving forward to protect us from these toxic chemicals.”

“Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right, and EPA’s action today is a clear recognition that these incredibly harmful chemicals should never have been in commerce and we need to get them out of drinking water,” said Erika Schreder, science director for Toxic-Free Future. “We hope that EPA’s action sends a strong signal that we need to protect drinking water by ending the use of PFAS and acting urgently to clean up existing contamination.”


Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. These toxic compounds are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS has been found in breast milk and in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they persist and don’t break down in the environment. Research has found that 3M knew in the 1970s that PFOA and PFOS are dangerous.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *