PFAS update 2024: Exploring legislative standards for environmental protection

PFAS chemicals leach into drinking water from various point and nonpoint sources.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first-ever nationwide, legally enforceable drinking water standard for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This rule represents the most significant step under EPA's PFAS strategic roadmap, addressing PFAS pollution and protecting the public from potential PFAS hazards. The EPA also announced $1 billion in available funding to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment for public water systems.

How will this PFAS update 2024 affect your community? Detailed below is an overview of the PFAS updates and why it's important to partner with an experienced team of environmental and water engineers to help your public water system comply with PFAS drinking water standards.

What are PFAS updates 2024?

Colloquially referred to as forever chemicals, they're resistant to water, heat and oil, which prevents them from breaking down, making it challenging to remove them from soil and water using traditional treatment technologies. Present in various industrial, commercial and consumer products, PFAS chemicals leach into groundwater and drinking water from point and nonpoint sources.

Prolonged exposure to PFAS in drinking water is linked to health conditions. Consequently, the EPA has established national standards to limit PFAS exposure for about 100 million Americans served by public drinking water systems. The following table highlights the key points of PFAS updates 2024.

PFAS updates 2024: Key pointers

Establish drinking water limits for five individual PFAS. 

  • The new standards have established maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) and maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for the following five PFAS. There are no known or expected PFAS risks to health below MCLG levels. MCLs are enforceable standards — the highest levels of PFAS allowed in drinking water.  







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HFPO-DA (GenX chemicals)

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Source: U.S. EPA

Set the hazard index level for two or more of four PFAS as a mixture. 

  • The Hazard Index is used to understand health risks from a chemical mixture. A Hazard Index of 1 has been set for two or more of four PFAS as a mixture: PFNA, PFHxS, HFPO-DA and PFBS. 

Monitor and reduce PFAS levels in drinking water. 

  • Water systems must take action to lower PFAS levels in drinking water if the levels exceed regulatory standards. 

  • Regulated public water systems should complete the initial monitoring of these chemicals within three years. 

  • Public water systems that detect PFAS above the new standards should implement solutions that reduce PFAS in their drinking water within five years. 

Notify the public if regulated PFAS levels exceed the new standards. 

  • Water systems should include their initial PFAS monitoring results in their Annual Water Quality reports to consumers. 

  • Water systems should also notify the public if levels of regulated PFAS exceed the new standards. 

Once implemented, the new PFAS rule will help lower PFAS-related illnesses or deaths. But how much will it cost to adhere to the new PFAS standards, including water system monitoring, communicating with customers and installing treatment technologies?

Compliance with this rule is projected to cost $1.5 billion annually. Federal funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is available to communities to make general drinking water improvements, including addressing PFAS chemicals. Partnering with experienced professionals for technical expertise and assistance in securing funding solutions can help your local public water system comply with new PFAS standards.

How Fehr Graham can help communities comply with drinking water standards for PFAS

At Fehr Graham, we are committed to helping communities access safe and reliable drinking water. Our custom, cost-effective and state-of-the-art water engineering solutions ensure PFAS-free drinking water for your community. From planning and designing water treatment systems to securing funding for system upgrades, we are a one-stop shop for all your water engineering requirements.

To learn more about PFAS update 2024 and how Fehr Graham can help your local community adhere to drinking water standards for PFAS, contact us or give us a call at 608.329.6400.