EPA sets new advisories in ‘forever chemicals’ crackdown

By E.A. Crunden, Ariel Wittenberg | 06/15/2022 09:00 AM EDT

The effort targets some of the most notorious PFAS and could have broad implications for the military and municipalities.

An EPA brochure on PFAS.

An EPA report on PFAS ahead of a news conference in Philadelphia in 2019. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

EPA today will announce new drinking water health advisories for the four most notorious “forever chemicals,” including new warnings for two compounds.

The new advisories could have broad implications for the military, which is on the hook for billions of dollars in cleanup costs, as well as for municipalities looking to reduce community exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

In a significant step, EPA is issuing final health advisories for the compounds PFBS and GenX, also called HFPO-DA. Both have been linked to health problems like liver and kidney issues, while GenX specifically has raised concerns around certain types of cancer. The agency now says that drinking water is only safe to consume if it contains less than 2,000 parts per trillion of PFBS and 10 ppt of GenX.


Regulators are also releasing interim replacements for EPA’s preexisting health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS, which are linked to a wide range of health problems, including liver and kidney impacts as well as various cancers. PFOA in particular has been singled out as a likely carcinogen by EPA.

The new levels are 4 parts per quadrillion for PFOA and 20 ppq for PFOS, far lower than the previous level of 70 ppt that was set for both in 2016. Those interim replacements will inform the drinking water regulations the agency will soon propose for both chemicals.