Curtis Tate, Shepherd Snyder Published

EPA, State Agencies Move To Limit, Treat PFAS In Drinking Water

Water pouring from a faucet into a clear glass cup.Jasonanaggie/Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing its first national standard limiting forever chemicals called PFAS in drinking water.

Meanwhile, two state agencies will collaborate with public water systems to treat drinking water for PFAS.

PFAS are a group of around 10,000 manmade chemicals that have been used to manufacture both industrial and consumer products. The U.S. Geological Survey found them in 67 of the state’s 279 raw water systems, with clusters in the Eastern Panhandle and Ohio River Valley.

The EPA’s proposal would establish legally enforceable levels for PFAS compounds known as PFOA and PFOS to four parts per trillion in water systems nationwide. Similar PFAS compounds like PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX Chemicals are also set to be regulated, though with less specific guidelines.

PFAS, called forever chemicals because they don’t break down, can be carcinogenic and prolonged exposure to them may lead to negative health effects.

“This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement.

Last month, the EPA also sent nearly $18.9 million to West Virginia to address PFAS as part of its Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant Program.  

The Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection will develop a PFAS working group.

“A collaborative approach between DHHR, DEP, and our public water systems will be the most effective way to treat PFAS in our state,” said DEP Secretary Harold Ward in a statement.

Last week, the state legislature passed House Bill 3189, the PFAS Protection Act, which requires the state to identify sources of PFAS in drinking water and develop plans to treat it.