EPA to Limit Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water

May 31, 2024

In 2016, the EPA set nonbinding limits on PFOA and PFOS—also known collectively as PFAS and "forever chemicals"—in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion. Despite this proclamation, there was no established method to enforce these limits. Fast forward to April 2024 and for the first time the agency has set enforceable limits on PFAS in drinking water.

Let's dive into what this means for you, and what additional steps you can take to protect yourself from these harmful contaminants.

What Are PFAS?

PFAS stands for perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. It's a large group of man-made chemicals common in manufacturing that have been used consistently since the 1940s. PFAS have strong molecular bonds that never break down in the environment, which is why they're known as "forever chemicals."

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid and C8, is used to make products that resist water, oil, stains, heat, and grease, making it a popular choice for use in products like firefighting foam, Gore-Tex clothing, and non-stick cookware. PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, is a stain-repellent used in products like Scotchgard. Both PFOA and PFOS have been linked to health risks including:

EPA administrator Michael Regan said, "There's no doubt that these chemicals have been important for certain industries and consumer uses, but there's also no doubt that many of these chemicals can be harmful to our health and our environment."

Of the more than 12,000 known PFAS, the EPA is restricting six of them including PFOA and PFOS.

What Is the New Limit on PFAS?

With this new regulation, the EPA is requiring all public water systems to reduce PFOA and PFOS to no more than four parts per trillion, a tremendous reduction from the aforementioned 2016 recommended limits of 70 parts per trillion.

Public water systems will have five years to address PFAS levels. This includes three years to sample the water in their systems to establish the existing levels of PFAS, and an additional two years to address levels that surpass the new limit by installing water treatment technologies.

The EPA expects that excess PFAS levels will be found in 6-10% of water systems, affecting approximately 100 million people in the U.S. 

It's important to remember that PFAS cannot be completely removed from drinking water. They can only be reduced. While public water systems will be taking steps to ensure that reduction, you can do more to protect yourself and your family.

How to Check Your Water for PFAS

Standard water testing kits are not able to detect PFAS and only test for things like chlorine, iron, and calcium. The only way to determine the presence of PFAS in your drinking water is with a laboratory test kit. You can purchase such kits from suppliers, but you must ensure the lab is accredited to test for PFAS.
You can also sometimes acquire testing kits from your local water utility or you can ask your utility what the current levels of PFAS are in the drinking water they supply. Some states have worse tap water than others, so it's important to find out for sure what's in the water specific to the state which in you and your family reside.

Image: ZeroWater ExtremeLife™ Faucet Mount Water Filter System

How to Reduce PFAS Even Further

ZeroWater is proud to be at the forefront of providing cleaner, safer water. Our pitchers, dispensers, and faucet mount systems are certified to reduce PFOA/PFOS for cleaner, healthier drinking water.

Our filters also significantly reduce contaminants such as PFOA and PFOS (forever chemicals), lead, chromium, and mercury, leaving behind the purest-tasting water for you and your family.

Image: ZeroWater 30 Cup Ready-Pour Dispenser

While enforcing new, lower limits on PFAS in public drinking water is an important step by the EPA, using a filter to clean tap water in addition to those regulations will always provide the safest, cleanest water possible. 

Drink Cleaner, Safer Water

ZeroWater stands on the belief that you should have zero doubt when it comes to your drinking water. Our 5-stage filters remove virtually all total dissolved solids and are IAPMO-certified to reduce PFOA/PFOS (forever chemicals), lead, and mercury. We're also third-party tested to reduce more than 30 other contaminants like pesticides. While our faucet mount is WQA certified and does remove many of the same contaminants as our 5-stage filters, it does not remove TDS from tap water. 

We offer a variety of water filtration products to suit your lifestyle and needs, everything from compact pitchers to 5-gallon jugs compatible with most water dispensers.

Learn more about how ZeroWater's filtration systems work, and find the one to suit your home and protect your health.


"EPA puts limits on 'forever chemicals' in drinking water" - National Public Radio - https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2024/04/10/1243775736/epa-pfas-forever-chemicals-drinking-water-limits

"Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)" - United States Environmental Protection Agency - https://www.epa.gov/pfas 

"Biden-Harris Administration Finalizes First-Ever National Drinking Water Standard to Protect 100M People from PFAS Pollution" - United States Environmental Protection Agency  - https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/biden-harris-administration-finalizes-first-ever-national-drinking-water-standard