[Comment Period] Proposed Rulemaking: Safe Drinking Water PFAS MCL Rule
February 28, 2022
The Environmental Quality Board (Board) proposes to amend Chapter 109 (relating to safe drinking water) to read as set forth in Annex A. The proposed amendments will improve public health protection by setting maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG) and maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
PFAS are considered emerging contaminants because research is ongoing to better understand the potential impacts PFAS pose to human and animal health and the environment. PFAS are potentially linked to a number of adverse health effects, including high cholesterol, developmental effects including low birth weight, liver toxicity, decreased immune response, thyroid disease, kidney disease, ulcerative colitis and certain cancers, including testicular cancer and kidney cancer.
The proposed amendments are intended to protect public health by setting State MCLs for contaminants in drinking water that are currently unregulated at the Federal level. With the proposed amendments, the Commonwealth would move ahead of the United States (U.S.) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in addressing PFOA and PFOS in drinking water and join a small group of states that have set MCLs for select PFAS in drinking water. Currently, six states have set MCLs for one or more PFAS—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.
Safe drinking water is vital to maintaining healthy and sustainable communities. Proactively addressing PFOA and PFOS contamination in drinking water can reduce the incidence of illness and reduce health care costs. Recent research suggests that the EPA's Combined Lifetime Health Advisory Level (HAL) for PFOA and PFOS is not sufficiently protective against adverse health effects. The EPA has started the process of setting more stringent standards for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, but that process is expected to take years to complete. For that reason, it is important that the Board act now to propose more protective standards for this Commonwealth, to protect the health of residents in this Commonwealth. Proper investment in public water system infrastructure and operations helps ensure a continuous supply of safe drinking water, enables communities to plan and build future capacity for economic growth, and ensures their long-term sustainability for years to come.
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