EPA’s PFAS guidelines: We’d desire zero, however we’ll settle for four components per trillion

A young person drinks from a public water fountain.

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As we speak, the Environmental Safety Company introduced that it has finalized guidelines for dealing with water provides which are contaminated by a big household of chemical substances collectively termed PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Generally referred to as “perpetually chemical substances,” these contaminants have been linked to an enormous vary of well being points, together with cancers, coronary heart illness, immune dysfunction, and developmental problems.

The ultimate guidelines hold one placing facet of the preliminary proposal intact: a objective of utterly eliminating publicity to 2 members of the PFAS household. The brand new guidelines require all ingesting water suppliers to watch for the chemical substances’ presence, and the EPA estimates that as many as 10 p.c of them could have to take motion to take away them. Whereas that might be expensive, the well being advantages are anticipated to exceed these prices.

Going low

PFAS are a set of hydrocarbons the place among the hydrogen atoms have been swapped out for fluorine. This swap retains the water-repellant habits of hydrocarbons whereas making the molecules extremely immune to breaking down by pure processes—therefore the perpetually chemical substances moniker. They’re broadly utilized in waterproof clothes and non-stick cooking gear and have discovered makes use of in firefighting foam. Their widespread use and disposal has allowed them to get into water provides in lots of areas.

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