EPA Issues New Strict Rules on 'Forever Chemicals'

Apr 11, 2024

Products That Contain PFAS

The US government is ordering municipal water systems to limit so-called “forever chemicals.” They're present in tap water for up to 100 million Americans. And they've been linked to many severe health issues.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the more stringent rules on Wednesday. The move thrilled activists. For years, some have pushed for a federal standard on the chemicals.

Forever chemicals don’t break down over time with ease. And they've been linked to many health issues. These include heart ailmentsimmune system and growth delays in children, and cancer. They mainly include per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These are hazards found in products such as cookware, flame-retardant foams, and makeup. They are used as coatings that resist grease, heat, and stains.

PFAS are very sturdy. That trait makes them dangerous. People dispose of products that have PFAS. Then the PFAS leach into the water supply.

Local water officials must now survey their systems. And they must remove the chemicals if they are present above new standard levels. Some states already have put in place more stringent standards. But the EPA said the new levels on six precise PFAS would affect 100 million Americans.

“This is historic and (huge),” Emily Donovan told NPR. She's co-founder of Clean Cape Fear. It's an advocacy group against PFAS. She added, “I didn't think (the EPA) would ever do it.” She lives in North Carolina. Her home is in a region where water systems have been contaminated with PFAS from a chemical plant.

The EPA gave local officials five years to address PFAS levels in their water supplies. “This action will prevent thousands of deaths,” EPA chief Michael Regan said. He said it will also reduce health issues on a wide scale.

Reflect: How do you make sure the food and drink you consume are as safe as they can be?

What does the infographic add to the article? (Common Core RI.5.7; RI.6.7)
a. It shows the wide range of everyday items that have PFAS.
b. It shows the harmful effects of PFAS on the human body.
c. It shows the harmful effects of PFAS on the environment.
d. It shows which products are free of PFAS.
For more formative assessments, visit thejuicelearning.com to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today