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EPA urged to finalize drinking water standards for 'forever chemicals'

This comes on the heels of two lawsuits filed by Maryland Attorney General Brown on Tuesday against state chemical manufacturers accused of polluting the water.

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being urged by 17 states, including Maryland, to finalize a proposal that would set enforceable drinking water standards for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – more commonly known as PFAS or “forever” chemicals.

Coming on the heels of two lawsuits filed on Tuesday, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown filed comments as part of a 17-state coalition supporting the agency's proposal.

“A glass of water should never be a gamble with health for Marylanders,” said Attorney General Brown. “We cannot overlook the devastating impacts of PFAS contamination on our communities. From families and communities that rely on public water systems to individuals who have experienced the detrimental effects of PFAS exposure, the urgency to finalize the proposed PFAS drinking water standards cannot be overstated. I will continue to fight for the health and well-being of our residents and the protection of our precious natural resources.”

In the proposed rule, officials claim the EPA set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) for six PFAS chemicals regularly found in drinking water.

In the comment letter, the coalition shows support for the EPA's authority to set the PFAS drinking water standards, to issue a preliminary determination and simultaneously propose MCLs and MCLGs for PFAS in drinking water, and the agency's proposed approach to regulate certain PFAS chemical individually and as a mixture. 

Officials claim PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. Those contaminants may be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals.

PFAS chemicals tend to be persistent in the environment and have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam and consumer products.

In addition to the proposed rule, the letter also urges the EPA to make technical and engineering resources available to public water systems so that the financial burden of removing PFAS does not unfairly fall on customers, finalize the drinking water standards quickly, and (consider drinking water standards for other PFAS after finalizing the rule. 

In its letter, the coalition asserts that “Our states face substantial threats to public health and the environment from PFAS” and that “We strongly support EPA’s proposed action to set national standards to protect the public from the harmful health impacts of PFAS in drinking water.”

Joining Attorney General Brown in signing the letter are the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


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