WASHINGTON D.C.: The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced a proposal for the first-ever national drinking water standard covering six substances, which are cancer-causing chemicals.
The announcement is the first time since 1996 that drinking water standards have been proposed for a new chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The proposal is part of the EPA's strategy to address made-made "forever chemicals" in water, air and food, which is suspected in causing tens of thousands of cases of ill health.
"The EPA's proposal to establish a national standard. in drinking water is informed by the best available science, and would help provide states with the guidance they need to make decisions that best protect their communities," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, as quoted by Reuters.
Under the new standard, public water systems must monitor for six chemicals, inform the public if levels exceed proposed standards in drinking water, and take action to reduce levels of specified chemicals.
These chemicals are used in products ranging from paper to pans to make them stain-resistant, water-repellent and grease-proof. They are also used in industrial processes and discharged into waterways.
Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden administration has allocated $10 billion to help communities reduce these and other toxic chemicals.
Environmental groups welcomed the new standards, but stressed that retailers and chemical companies are responsible for making a difference.
Meanwhile, West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who has for years pressed the EPA to address the chemicals, said, "I am looking forward to hearing from those who will be impacted by this announcement, including local water systems and ratepayers across the country, on how we can provide assistance for implementation," according to Reuters.