The White House on Tuesday announced new executive measures to regulate the level of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) permissible in drinking water.
Biden’s Executive Order places the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in control of establishing and enforcing a national clean water standard. In addition to the new directive, the White House released information about PFAS produced by the White House Office of Science and Technology.
PFAS chemicals, sometimes described as “forever chemicals,” are commonly used in various manufacturing processes.
The molecules contain a strong carbon-fluorine bond, which makes them useful for things like non-stick pots and pans. But that bond also makes them very durable and hard too destroy.
As a result, the chemicals have been found in Maine drinking water, Maine human waste, Maine farmland, and pretty much everywhere in the state.
In recent years, state lawmakers have passed several laws aimed at mitigating the effect of the chemicals, including a PFAS product testing requirement that took effect this year and a prohibition on the use of certain PFAS-containing fertilizers that took effect last year.
But the chemicals are difficult to remove from water using conventional water-treatment systems, which are typically focused on removing biological pathogens.
The information released by the White House Tuesday included blood PFAS assessments from the Centers for Disease Control, a blood PFAS assessment on firefighters from the Department of Veterans Affairs, food PFAS tests from the Food and Drug Administration, and wildlife testing performed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Alarmingly, the report includes a CDC investigation that found PFAS within the blood serum of 98 percent of 2,000 individuals included in the study.
The reports was commissioned as part of the National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress in 2021.
You can read the report here: