Expert Take: Drinking Water Limits Needed for PFAS

Feb 10, 2019

Fire fighting foams, non-stick pots and pans, stain-resistant furniture, and water-proof outerwear. They sound like inventions of the Jetsons.

The chemicals that give these items their nearly magical properties are known as PFAS - perfluoroalkyl substances. And they’re not staying in our clothes and cookwear. These chemicals have also been found in drinking water supplies around the country and in the vast majority of people’s bodies.

There’s growing concern about the health impacts of PFAS. High levels of exposure have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, and to weakened immune responses.

Over the past year, EPA has been holding community meetings and gathering comments as they consider setting legal drinking water limits for PFAS. Several states have also set limits or started moving in that direction.

Rainer Lohmann, a professor of oceanography at University of Rhode Island and director of the STEEP Superfund Research Center, says comprehensive drinking water limits are needed to address the risks from PFAS.