News > News > Water Quality > Riverkeeper commends new EPA PFAS standards but cautions work remains after agency confirms no safe level of exposure for drinking water

Riverkeeper commends new EPA PFAS standards but cautions work remains after agency confirms no safe level of exposure for drinking water

Riverkeeper applauds the EPA’s announcement of its new finalized federal drinking water standards for six PFAS chemicals. Long-term exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been associated with many serious health conditions and are considered “forever chemicals” that do not break down naturally in our environment. EPA’s new standards represent an important step in the effort to protect human health. These federal regulations will set more protective standards for two PFAS currently regulated by New York State, as well as establish new standards for PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS and HFPO-DA (known as GenX). Many New Yorkers can learn if some of these PFAS have been tested for or detected in their drinking water by reviewing Annual Water Quality Reports for public drinking water supplies at

“Because these new federal drinking water standards are more protective than New York’s current standards, the EPA’s regulations will result in reduced exposure to harmful PFAS in drinking water, and influence the cleanup goals at sites like Stewart Air National Guard Base,” said Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Senior Director of Advocacy, Policy and Planning. “The bad news is that many drinking water sources in the Hudson Valley have detectable levels of PFAS. The good news is that these new regulations will protect many of our neighbors from further exposure to these chemicals.”

Riverkeeper’s analysis of drinking water data shows that many Hudson Valley communities will be better protected with the EPA’s new standards, which will result in improvements to drinking water treatments that will remove a variety of chemicals. U.S. residents consistently name drinking water quality among their top environmental concerns, and a poll released just this week shows that a majority are willing to pay higher water rates for higher quality water. Ultimately, corporate manufacturers and polluters should pay for treatment and remediation.

“Upgrading treatment technologies to remove PFAS from drinking water provides multiple benefits, including improved removal of other contaminants. Making it easier for communities to access funding that will allow them to complete these upgrades needs to be a top priority,” said Riverkeeper Science Director Shannon Roback. “It is worth noting that the EPA sets both Maximum Contaminant Level Goals, based strictly on health risks, and Maximum Contaminant Levels, which may be less protective of human health because they consider the cost associated with implementing protections. For PFOA and PFOS, the EPA’s scientific assessment concluded that no exposure to PFOA or PFOS in drinking water is safe.”

In addition to more protective drinking water standards, Riverkeeper advocates for a range of policies to reduce the risks associated with PFAS, including elimination of non-essential uses of the chemicals, elimination of discharges of PFAS to the environment, implementing comprehensive drinking water source protection programs, and thoroughly remediating PFAS at contaminated sites.

“This is one important step toward reducing risk from PFAS, which can be bolstered if New York proactively takes additional action,” said Jeremy Cherson, Riverkeeper’s Senior Manager of Government Affairs. “The New York State Legislature and governor can take other important steps by fully committing funding to the Clean Water Infrastructure Act to help communities pay for treatment upgrades, passing the PFAS Discharge Act to better locate and address discharges of PFAS, and pass a wide variety of bans on PFAS in consumer products that ultimately make their way into the environment and our bodies.”

“The federal standards set a strong foundation for states to build on their regulatory efforts. New York should use this momentum to continue leading the nation on PFAS regulation,” said Victoria Leung, Riverkeeper’s Staff Attorney. “The Department of Environmental Conservation must prioritize the establishment of stringent water quality standards to limit the discharge of PFAS, as well as regulation of landfill leachate that today is often discharged without effective treatment. In addition, the Department of Health must update state drinking water standards to meet or exceed these new federal regulations as soon as possible.”

Media contact:
Riverkeeper: Lewis Kendall, Riverkeeper Communications Manager
[email protected]
914-478-4501 ext. 238

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