U.S. EPA Expands Testing for PFAS in Drinking Water

Dec. 23, 2019

The U.S. EPA is expanding new testing methods to measure 29 PFAS in drinking water. 

The U.S. EPA validated new testing methods to measure the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the nation's drinking water.

The new testing protocol will expand the number of PFAS measured in drinking water to 29, which is up from 18, reported the Star Tribune.

“EPA’s important scientific advancement makes it possible for both government and private laboratories to effectively measure more PFAS chemicals in drinking water than ever before,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the EPA’s press release. “We can now measure 29 chemicals, marking a critical step in implementing the agency’s PFAS Action Plan—the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern.”

EPA’s new validated Method 533 focuses on short chain PFAS, according to the agency’s press release. Method 533 complements Method 537.1 and can be used to test for 11 additional PFAS.

The new testing protocol will determine the presence of other PFAS in drinking water, some of them potentially as toxic as PFOA and PFAS, reported the Star Tribune. The PFAS industry, including companies such as 3M, wants each variety of PFAS tested individually before placing restrictions on its presence in the water supply, however. 

"This new detection method, in combination with new monitoring and reporting requirements in the NDAA, will significantly expand our ability to understand the full scope of the PFAS contamination crisis," said Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group's vice president for government affairs. "But knowing your water is polluted or who polluted it is small comfort. What Americans really want is clean water."

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