US invests $1 billion to tackle PFAS

Improving health © Shutterstock/VladKK

As part of its on-going mission to tackle emerging contaminants, such as PFAS – also known as ‘forever chemicals’ – the US has announced that $1 billion will be dedicated to addressing PFAS, bringing the total funding announced for emerging contaminants to nearly $5 billion.

PFAS – widely used, long-lasting chemicals that break down very slowly over time – have been used in many different consumer, commercial and industrial products, and when present in drinking water or wastewater contribute to a variety of harmful health impacts, including developmental challenges in children and increased risk of cancer.

In March 2023, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever national drinking water standard for PFAS under President Biden’s plan to combat PFAS pollution and enable the EPA to develop a ‘Strategic Roadmap’ to address PFAS and establish legally enforceable levels for six PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

The EPA has embarked on testing to establish the first comprehensive nationwide assessment of PFAS contamination in drinking water in the US. Testing completed so far, which assessed one-third of the country’s public water systems, suggests that 60% of the population is exposed to drinking water contaminated with PFAS.