On March 14th 2023 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to establish legally enforceable levels for six types of ‘forever chemicals’ known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). It is expected to prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses attributable to PFAS.

The rule would require public water systems to monitor PFAS levels, notify the public of these and reduce them if exceeding the proposed standards. Developed over several years and grounded in the authority that the EPA has from US Congress, through the Safe Drinking Water Act, the goal is to issue a final PFAS drinking water standard by the end of 2023 or early 2024. This will result in a standard to which all water systems in the US must adhere.

“This problem is so widespread, as many as 94 million people in the US have drinking water with those six PFAS at levels exceeding EPA’s proposed standards. These chemicals are everywhere and unfortunately more and more PFAS are showing up in more places across the entire country,” says Erik Olson, former EPA lawyer and senior strategic director for the Health and Food, People and Communities Program at the National Resources Defense Council.

Sarah Doll, national director for Safer States, an NGO fighting pollution, speaks to Naka Kondo, the lead editor of Back to Blue about the significance of the EPA proposal to limit PFAS in US drinking water – and what needs to happen next.

Continue reading by downloading the full report: THE INVISIBLE WAVE: GETTING TO ZERO CHEMICAL POLLUTION IN THE OCEAN