News & Insights


On April 10, 2024 the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) finalized drinking water regulations for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). The EPA expects that the regulations will prevent PFAS exposure in drinking water for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable diseases.

The finalized EPA regulations establish legally enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (“MCLs”) for six PFAS in drinking water. These PFAS are PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA, as well as mixtures containing two or more of these chemicals. The final rule requires that public water systems monitor for these PFAS and will have three years to complete initial monitoring, which will be followed by ongoing compliance monitoring.

Beginning in 2027, water systems must provide the public with information on the levels of PFAS in their drinking water. Within five years, public water systems must implement solutions to reduce PFAS if monitoring shows that drinking water levels exceed the MCLs. Beginning in 2029, public water systems that have PFAS in excess of the MCLs will be required to take action to reduce PFAS levels and notify the public that it is in violation of the MCLs.

PFAS compounds are known as “forever chemicals” because they never fully degrade and can accumulate in the body and environment. A 2023 government study detected PFAS in nearly half the tap water in the country, and it can be found in the blood of almost every person in the United States. Exposure to PFAS has been associated with metabolic disorders, decreased fertility in women, development delays in children, and increased risk of some types of cancer. In 2022, the EPA found that PFAS could cause harm at levels much lower than previously understood, and almost no level of exposure was safe.

PFAS are used in many common household products, including nonstick cookware, cleaning products, dental floss, firefighting foam, and water resistant carpet. A number of states and municipalities have sued the manufacturers of products containing PFAS in recent years, but the settlements in those cases have been below the costs of cleaning up the chemicals. The EPA estimates that it will cost water utilities about $1.5 billion annually to comply with the new regulations, but utilities believe the costs will be twice that amount. Approximately $1 billion of funding from the 2021 infrastructure law will be set aside to help states with initial testing and treatment.