PFAS: Enforcing Regulation on Forever Chemicals in Our Drinking Water

May 7, 2024

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of consumer products and industrial applications since the 1940s. These chemicals are known for their resistance to heat, water, and oil, making them valuable in popular products like non-stick cookware, food packaging, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foams.  These chemicals also take a long time to break down.

Given their durability and historic use, they are pervasive in the environment and in the human body, which is why they are known as ‘forever chemicals’. PFAS can accumulate over time in the environment, wildlife, and humans, posing potential health risks. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to various health effects, including reproductive and developmental problems, liver and kidney damage, immune system disorders, and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Because of these concerns, there has been growing attention from regulatory agencies and the public to monitor and regulate PFAS contamination in water, soil, air, and consumer products. On April 10, 2024, the U.S. EPA announced the final Primary National Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) to enforce drinking water concentrations for six PFAS compounds. This establishes Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for the following PFAS chemicals: PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and mixtures containing two or more of PFHxS, PFNA, HFPO-DA, and PFBS. 

The following chart breaks down MCL concentrations that will be enforced for public drinking water sources:

*The Hazard Index is a numeric system that the EPA regularly uses to assess the risk of health effects from exposure to chemical mixtures. 

Public water systems (PWS) will now be required to monitor for these chemicals over the next three years to establish baseline concentrations of these chemicals in their drinking water sources. These analytical results will be public information in 2027. If elevated levels are detected for these analytes during the initial monitoring, public water service providers will have until 2029 to implement reduction strategies. 

If you represent a PWS or are interested in learning more about monitoring for PFAS chemicals in your drinking water supplies, Downstream Strategies provides environmental monitoring services for drinking, surface, and groundwater sources, as well as source water protection and planning services. For more information, contact Kendra Hatcher at 304-292-2450 or email her at