Read the full article by Olivia Backhaus and Jared Hayes (Environmental Working Group)

“Setting a national drinking water standard for the ‘forever chemicals‘ known as PFAS – and passing the implementation costs to ratepayers and private well owners, while letting industry to keep dumping PFAS in drinking water – is the epitome of environmental injustice.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to clean up PFAS contamination could create exactly that outcome, because the companies discharging the toxic chemicals won’t be on the hook for paying treatment costs for getting PFAS out of drinking water. Just as bad, the agency has outlined a lengthy timeline for regulation, despite the need for urgent action.

A final EPA drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, two of the most notorious PFAS chemicals, will be in place by the end of 2023, and the agency might not finalize new limits on industrial discharges of the harmful substances for a decade or more

Setting a hard deadline for the EPA to set such limits faster, as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) have proposed, should be a top priority for Congress. 

PFAS have been confirmed in the drinking water of nearly 3,000 communities and are likely to be in the drinking water of more than 200 million Americans. And studies suggest that communities with environmental justice concerns are disproportionately harmed by PFAS, who will be further harmed by any delay in cleaning up. Specifically:

  • Using California’s environmental justice screening tool, scientists were able to determine that low-income, people of color and indigenous communities in California had very high levels of PFAS in their drinking water.
  • An analysis of drinking water in New Jersey found that people of color were more likely to have PFAS detected in their drinking water.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists found that people of color were more likely to live within five miles of a site contaminated with PFAS.”…