EPA Finalizes National Drinking Water Regulation for PFAS

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Environmental Law

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a significant new regulation on April 10, 2024, aimed at protecting public health from harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals found in drinking water. This rule, known as the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for PFAS, establishes the first-ever enforceable limits for these persistent contaminants.

PFAS, sometimes referred to as “forever chemicals,” are man-made chemicals used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer products. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to various health problems, including certain cancers, liver and immune system issues, and developmental problems in children.

The EPA’s new NPDWR for PFAS has three key goals:

  • Reduce PFAS exposure in drinking water: The regulation sets enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for six specific PFAS chemicals. These MCLs establish the highest levels of these contaminants allowed in public water systems. The EPA estimates this will prevent PFAS exposure for over 100 million people nationwide.
  • Protect public health: By limiting PFAS in drinking water, the EPA aims to reduce the risk of adverse health effects associated with chronic exposure to these chemicals. The MCLs are set at levels that the EPA considers protective of human health, based on the latest scientific understanding.
  • Ensure ongoing monitoring and compliance: The NPDWR requires public water systems to begin monitoring for the regulated PFAS within three years (by 2027). If PFAS levels exceed the established MCLs, water systems must take action to reduce those levels within five years (by 2029). Additionally, the rule mandates public notification if a violation occurs.

The new regulation comes alongside $1 billion in funding allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support states and communities with implementing the PFAS NPDWR. These funds will be used to assist with PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems, as well as to aid private well owners in addressing PFAS contamination.

The final rule and associated documents, including the MCL table, can be found on the EPA website. This is an ongoing effort, and the EPA indicates it will continue to evaluate additional PFAS chemicals and consider further regulatory actions in the future.

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Sound legal guidance is critical. Additionally, a proactive approach is essential for maintaining regulatory compliance. Our attorneys take an experienced, detail-oriented and collaborative approach to analyzing clients’ objectives and identifying potential issues to address them before they escalate into costly missteps.

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Depending on the subject matter, a multitude of state and federal agencies may come into play. They include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture,  California Environmental Protection Agency,  California Department of Toxic Substances Control, California Water Quality Control Board, California Air Resources Board, and California Coastal Commission, to name just a few.

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Supporting Materials

General Information

Communications Toolkit

EPA has developed this toolkit of materials for  entities that need to communicate about PFAS.

Information for States, Tribes, and Water Systems

Regulatory Information