Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Testing for ‘forever chemicals’

Ice at the old Corinth drinking supply reservoir earlier this winter. Photo by Zachary MatsonThe federal Environmental Protection Agency this morning proposed the first national drinking water standards for the so-called “forever chemicals” that are pervasive in waterways across the country.

The proposed regulation – which is open for public comment and EPA suggested would be finalized by the end of the year – would establish legally-enforceable “maximum contaminant levels” for six types of PFAS.

The rule would require public water systems to monitor the contaminants, report levels to the public and achieve new thresholds for the different chemical types. The proposed rule establishes maximum contaminant levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) of 4 parts per trillion in public drinking supplies. It creates a hazard index for four other chemical types, limiting their levels to less than 1 part per trillion.

The ubiquitous chemicals are found in countless items of everyday life, such as waterproof clothing and toilet paper. Hundreds of millions of Americans are estimated to be exposed to some levels of PFAS in their tap water.

Check out coverage of the proposed rule in the New York Timesthe Washington Post and the Associated Press.

Water conference

In New York City, the United Nations is hosting a global water conference. Known officially as the 2023 Conference for the Midterm Comprehensive Review of Implementation of the UN Decade for Action on Water and Sanitation, the conference aims to refocus efforts to address the numerous challenges to freshwater first outlined at a 1977 UN conference. Participants will serve as a review of goals established to avert international water shortfalls.

This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Photo at top: Ice at the old Corinth drinking supply reservoir earlier this winter. Photo by Zachary Matson

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.




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