Sign ANHE’s Petition & Take Action on PFAS and National Drinking Water Standards!
“As a nurse/health care provider, I am asking EPA to quickly finalize these proposed standards to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. I urge EPA to implement a rule that is the most health-protective, resisting industry’s efforts to weaken them. National standards to limit the concentration of PFAS in drinking water are long overdue. EPA’s proposal for six PFAS would set the national standard for PFOA and PFOS at the lowest detection level approved by the agency, and would establish limits on GenX, PFBS, PFNA, and PFHxS using a hazard index. EPA estimates that 94 million Americans currently receive drinking water contaminated by one or more these PFAS chemicals at levels above the limits proposed by EPA. This proposed regulation of PFAS will improve drinking water safety for millions of Americans.
In addition to PFAS being widespread in drinking water, these “forever chemicals” persist throughout the environment and pose risks to public health even in trace amounts. PFAS are found in the blood of virtually everyone on Earth, and build up in our organs. Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to suppression of the immune system and are associated with an elevated risk of cancers and reproductive and developmental harms, among other serious health concerns. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has published in their guidance that there is sufficient evidence that certain PFAS are associated with health outcomes including:
- decreased antibody responses (in adults and children),
- dyslipidemia (in adults and children),
- decreased infant and fetal growth, and
- increased risk of kidney cancer (in adults)
Because drinking water is a significant pathway of PFAS exposure, addressing contamination before it reaches our taps is key to reducing associated health problems. EPA’s proposed drinking water standards align with the Biden Administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice. Communities of color and low-income communities have historically faced disproportionate exposure to pollution and cumulative adverse health effects from multiple co-occurring contaminants.
As nurses and healthcare providers quickly educate themselves on how to adequately assess patients and communities for PFAS exposure and provide resources on how to reduce exposure and take proactive steps to monitor for potential health outcomes, we are relying on the EPA to swiftly finalize drinking water standards for PFAS, expedite efforts to prevent these forever chemicals from polluting the environment in the first place by: controlling industrial discharges of PFAS into water, and addressing PFAS in state- and federal-issued permits consistent with EPA’s 2022 guidance under the Clean Water Act; reduce unnecessary uses of PFAS, and prevent the entry of dangerous new PFAS chemicals into commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act; minimize PFAS emissions under the Clean Air Act; clean up PFAS contaminated sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and regulate PFAS disposal under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
The ubiquitous nature of PFAS contamination underscores the need to curb all pathways of PFAS exposure and sources of pollution. Improved population health outcomes cannot wait therefore, I urge EPA to finalize the standards as quickly as possible with minimal concessions. I thank EPA for the opportunity to comment and applaud EPA’s recognition that both individual PFAS and chemical mixtures of PFAS can threaten human health. “