EPA Tells States to Screen for PFAS Before Discharges Enter Waterways

Every day millions are exposed to drinking water contaminated with PFAS


Zahra Ahmad, Earthjustice, zahmad@earthjustice.org

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today gave states important recommendations to test wastewater for PFAS before allowing polluters to discharge it into public waters, which is the main route of human exposure to these “forever chemicals.” PFAS are nearly indestructible, non-biodegradable, and linked to serious health issues such as cancer, infertility, and impaired fetal development. At least 200 million people in 38 states and Puerto Rico have PFAS-contaminated tap water or groundwater. States now have an opportunity to take a step in minimizing the harm caused by industrial discharges of these toxic chemicals.

EPA released guidance for state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to address PFAS discharges into our nation’s waterways. This comes after the agency issued guidance for federally issued NPDES permits in April. EPA now recommends states take measures when writing their NPDES permits to ensure facilities monitor and locate certain PFAS in their wastewater so that it can be treated before discharging these toxic chemicals into waterways.

The following statement is from Christine Santillana, Earthjustice’s legislative counsel:

“We commend EPA for creating this necessary guidance. PFAS water contamination is ongoing and needs a strong response across the country,” Santillana said. “We urge states to implement these steps to limit PFAS discharges and reduce pollution. States should ensure that PFAS do not reach our waterways. Communities deserve to be protected.” 

See Earthjustice’s online summary and tracker of EPA’s PFAS regulatory roadmap.

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