As reported this morning, PFAS are feared to cause everything from higher cholesterol to cancer. A handful of states have set limits for the amount of PFAS that regulators think can safely be in drinking water that is about the same as the limit of technology to detect these so called forever chemicals. Understandably citizens of the those states, as well as citizens of the 40 or so that have no limits at all, are increasingly scared of their drinking water.
The association of public drinking water providers, the American Water Works Association, estimates the cost to address PFAS in water supplies at 3 to 38 billion dollars. In the meantime, a wave of related litigation is spreading across the country unlike anything seen in years.
EPA is now working to better understand these ubiquitous chemicals and what must be done about them. In the meantime, movies, other media, well meaning environmental and public health advocates and plaintiffs' lawyers increase the anxiety of an already fearful citizenry.
We would be best served if the Government dealt with this challenge as it has come to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic; an all hands (Government, Academia, Industry) on deck effort to understand these chemicals and the risks they truly present. The only question then will be is it too late?
Beyond potential costs, utilities are preparing to face a public that’s worried about PFAS in their water and asking questions with few answers, Moody said. EPA has readily available information for only two of the 29 PFAS listed in the proposed monitoring rule, he said. What’s known about PFAS now is raising public concerns, Moody said, including links to health problems such as higher cholesterol, decreased vaccine effectiveness, and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.