EPA tightens recommendations on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

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In December 2021, the one-million gallon, 155-foot tall water storage tank in Satellite Beach, known as the Patrick tank, is pictured here in the process of being demolished.  The old elevated tanks in the Melbourne water system had been decommissioned years ago.  The Patrick tank is the last of them to be demolished.

Federal regulators stunned scientists and local officials nationwide Wednesday by releasing new health advisories for toxic “forever chemicals” known to be in thousands of US drinking water systems, potentially impacting millions of people.

The US Environmental Protection Agency cut the safe level of a chemical called PFOA by more than 17,000 times what the agency had previously said was protective of health, to now just four “parts per quadrillion.” The safe level of a sister chemical, PFOS, was reduced by a factor of 3,500.

“This will set off alarm bells for consumers, for regulators, and for manufacturers, who thought the previous (advisories) were safe,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “I can not find the words to explain what kind of a moment this is. … The number of people drinking what are, according to these new numbers, unsafe levels of PFAS, is going to grow astronomically. ”