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Press Statement

EPA announces finalized drinking water standards for six individual PFAS “forever chemicals”

Commitment comes after years of PFAS action by states and leading retailers nationwide 

Safer States and Toxic-Free Future applaud EPA’s record low drinking water standards

WASHINGTON, DC⸺Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced final drinking water standards for six individual PFAS “forever chemicals” including PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, HFPO-DA (GenX), and PFBS. This is the first time that drinking water standards have been finalized for a new chemical under the Safe Drinking Water Act since it was updated in 1996. The finalized drinking water standards are:

  • 4 parts per trillion for PFOA
  • 4 parts per trillion for PFOS
  • A standard based on the hazard of a mixture of four PFAS chemicals: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and HFPO-DA (commonly known as Gen X)
  • 10 parts per trillion for PFNA
  • 10 parts per trillion for PFHxS
  • 10 parts per trillion for HFPO-DA 

EPA’s commitment comes after years of PFAS action by states and leading retailers nationwide. 

Safer States and Toxic-Free Future applaud the adoption of record low drinking water standards for these PFAS chemicals and say PFAS are too harmful to be put into commerce. The following statements were released in response to this news.

“PFAS from an upstream chrome plating facility contaminated the drinking water source in my community,” said Robb Kerr, Ann Arbor community leader and Great Lakes PFAS Action Network member. “These EPA drinking water standards are long overdue for impacted community members across the country that have also dealt with PFAS pollution in their drinking water.”

“This is a huge victory. These new rules will give communities across America access to safer drinking water,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “For years, states have led the way in addressing PFAS contamination. We applaud the administration for stepping up to ensure that all states and communities have these protections.

“Communities across the country are suffering the financial and health consequences of ongoing exposures to these highly toxic ‘forever chemicals,’” said Liz Hitchcock, federal policy program director for Toxic-Free Future. “We have got to prevent further pollution from PFAS, by ending their use in firefighting foams used by military and civilian firefighters and in consumer products like food packaging and textiles. Congress and the Administration must keep moving forward to protect us from these toxic chemicals.” 

“Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right, and EPA’s action today is a clear recognition that these incredibly harmful chemicals should never have been in commerce and we need to get them out of drinking water,” said Erika Schreder, science director for Toxic-Free Future. “We hope that EPA’s action sends a strong signal that we need to protect drinking water by ending the use of PFAS and acting urgently to clean up existing contamination.”


Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. These toxic compounds are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS has been found in breast milk and in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they persist and don’t break down in the environment. Research has found that 3M knew in the 1970s that PFOA and PFOS are dangerous.

PFAS in drinking water: State governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to establish standards such as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for certain PFAS in drinking water. Eleven states (ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WI and WA) have established these standards. Maine has an interim standard that is in effect and enforceable while they go through rule-making to establish final PFAS MCLs. Delaware and Virginia have also begun the process of establishing enforceable standards for certain PFAS. Twelve additional states (AK, CA, CT, CO, HI, IL, MD, MN, NC, NM, OH and OR) have adopted guidance, health advisory, or notification levels for certain PFAS chemicals. 

PFAS in products: State governments are also taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME, MN, and WA have given state agencies the authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Twelve states including CA, CO, CT, HI, ME, MD, MN, NY, OR, RI, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Eight states including CA, CO, ME, MD, MN, NY, VT, and WA have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs, aftermarket treatments, and/or upholstered furniture. CA and NY adopted restrictions on PFAS in apparel and CO adopted restrictions on oil and gas products. CA, CO, OR, and MN are phasing out PFAS in children’s products, and MN and VT have banned PFAS in ski wax. MN also restricted PFAS in menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, cookware, and dental floss. Six states including CA, CO, MD, MN, OR, and WA are taking action to eliminate PFAS in cosmetics. Twelve states including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, ME, MD, MN, NH, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Retailers restricting PFAS: Retailers are also aligning with state-level efforts to regulate PFAS in products, adopting comprehensive policies to phase out these hazardous chemicals, according to the Retailer Report Card. Target has committed to eliminating PFAS from a wide array of its products, spanning textiles, cosmetics, and cookware. Leading brands like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Patagonia are actively reducing PFAS in textiles. Lowe’s and The Home Depot have committed to stop selling PFAS-containing carpets and rugs, with Lowe’s discontinuing PFAS-laden fabric protection sprays. More than a dozen grocery and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Ahold Delhaize, and Whole Foods Market have adopted policies restricting PFAS in food packaging. The leading electronics brand Apple announced plans to phase PFAS out of its products and manufacturing processes and to develop safer alternatives. IKEA was one of the first major retailers to ban PFAS in its products globally. Currently, over 30 major retailers with more than 160,000 stores and more than $770 billion in sales have committed to eliminating or reducing PFAS in food packaging, textiles, cosmetics, and/or other products.


Safer States is a national alliance of environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation working to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals, and to ensure availability of safer solutions for a healthier world. Led by state-based organizations, the alliance seeks government and corporate action that lead to safer chemicals and materials, and protection of public health and communities by transitioning away from harmful chemicals and holding chemical polluters accountable.


Toxic-Free Future is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.



Stephanie Stohler

[email protected]

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