The Environmental Protection Agency announced new advisory limits for “forever chemicals”.
Forever chemicals are dangerous chemicals that never degrade in the environment and contaminate drinking water, soil, air, food, and numerous products people consume or encounter on an everyday basis. They are named forever chemicals because of their longevity in the environment.
Limits on four kinds of forever chemicals, or PFAS, were announced by the EPA, which warned that the compounds are far more toxic than previously thought.
The chemicals are contaminating the drinking water of an estimated 200 million-plus people.
The new limits could have significant financial consequences for major polluters, including the military, as well as producers like 3M, DuPont and Chemours.
Public health advocates praised the new move, but they noted that it only addresses four of about a whopping 9,000 PFAS compounds.
Experts and advocates have called on the EPA to regulate the entire chemical class of forever chemicals.
The new standards are not enforceable limits, but they are advisories that are often used by state regulators to set legally binding levels or serve as a cleanup guide.
Experts say there is no safe level of PFAS, and that the science has clearly shown the chemicals do not belong in tap water.
There are still thousands of other PFAS, and experts and advocates say the government needs to regulate these forever chemicals as a class and set an enforceable limit at 1 ppt.
PFAS do not naturally break down. They accumulate in the environment, as well as within human bodies. They are used to make thousands of products across dozens of industries. They resist water, stain, and heat.
The chemicals are linked to very low doses of exposure to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, decreased immunity, reproductive problems, and other serious health problems.