A New Limit On Forever Chemicals

By Gwen Reusing

Do you trust the water you drink? A 2024 report from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that 91% of Americans use a water filter, a percentage that has been on the rise since 2020. Despite many Americans distrusting tap water, the majority remain unaware of PFAS. These harmful chemicals have existed in our drinking water for decades, and we are finally taking action to eliminate them.
It’s been estimated that almost half of the tap water in the United States contains several chemicals called PFAS, or Per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The Environmental Protection Agency now requires that water companies remove these chemicals linked to many health problems. Thousands of deaths and illnesses could be prevented. On April 10, the previous limit, 70 parts per trillion, was revised to 4 parts per trillion. These chemicals have been shown to cause high cholesterol, several cancers, a weaker immune system, fertility issues, and disrupted child development. They can also affect how effective vaccines are on the body.
Almost every person in the United States has these chemicals in their blood flow because of their widespread use in the past and continued use today. PFAS were commonly used to create non-stick pans and other stain-resistant products. They can be found in clothing, food, makeup, and water. Even though they are not commonly used, these “forever chemicals” do not break down easily. They exist everywhere on earth and can be found in soil, water, and even the air. They have migrated from products and facilities into our natural environment.
Instead of using PFAS in products, many companies now use different chemicals that are proposed as a safe alternative. However, an article from an environmental charity states, “These alternatives weren’t proven to be safe prior to use, they simply hadn’t been proven unsafe, and that’s a very important distinction.”
The fact that PFAS have existed in our water supply is not a new concept but it is now understood that even small amounts of these chemicals can be dangerous. Furthermore, it will take years to reduce the amount of PFAS in the water supply, and will be extremely expensive. Due to new regulations, it’s predicted that companies that can’t meet the standards will outsource their products from less regulated facilities outside of the United States. The new restriction on PFAS per trillion seems impossibly difficult to achieve, even with billions of dollars of backing. They can’t be avoided by simply drinking bottled water. This new regulation is nevertheless a step in the right direction to get rid of harmful chemicals that have been with us forever.