Policy and Legal

NAM: EPA’s National PFAS Drinking Water Standard Threatens Manufacturing

Municipal water systems will soon be required to remove six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from drinking water, The New York Times (subscription) reports.

  • But the move could backfire and have adverse effects on manufacturers, the NAM said Thursday.

What’s going on: The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the first-ever national rule limiting PFAS “to near-zero levels.”

  • PFAS are compounds that have been used for decades due to their rare ability to douse fires and resist grease, corrosion and stains. They’re found in everything from semiconductors to medical devices and renewable-energy production equipment.
  • But under the new mandate water systems across the U.S. will have three years to monitor the chemicals and a further two years to put into place technology to reduce the compounds’ levels in the water.
  • The utilities “would be required to notify the public and reduce contamination if levels exceeded the new standard of 4 parts per trillion for [PFOA and PFOS]. Previously, the agency had advised that drinking water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion of the chemicals.”

The background: The rule comes just over a year after the EPA proposed the first federal limits on two PFAS chemicals, known as PFOA and PFOS.

The funding: The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law set aside $9 billion to help communities with PFAS removal. The government will make $1 billion of it available to states and territories to help defray the cost of testing and treatment over the next few years.

Higher prices, less security: The new standard is wholly infeasible, NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram said, and will lead to cost increases throughout the supply chain and make our national defense more difficult.

  • “In many instances, there is no viable alternative for these chemicals, and companies may be forced to change plans dramatically” to comply with the new rule, he said. “The severity of the proposed regulations will mean higher prices for everything—community water and waste systems, medical treatments and electronics. More alarming, the regulations will make it more difficult to produce the equipment our military needs to defend our nation.”

What we’re doing: The NAM is weighing legal options for reversing the final rule, according to Netram.

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