Kentucky cities and towns could soon start ramping up water monitoring for PFAS chemicals in response to the latest nationwide limits proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In 2019, Kentucky tested 81 drinking-water systems statewide and found at least one out of eight different PFAS chemicals in more than half.
Betsy Sutherland, the former director of the EPA Office of Science and Technology and current member of the Environmental Protection Network, explained that the EPA now wants to set strict limits on six types of PFAS in water.
“That's all going to change if EPA finalizes drinking water standards for these chemicals that are similar to what they just proposed,” said Sutherland. “And that’s because they’re all much lower than what Kentucky thought was a problem back in 2019.”
Found in non-stick cookware, fast-food packaging, dental floss, fire-fighting foam, and other products, mounting evidence shows PFAS chemicals can accumulate in the body over time and have been linked to cancer and other health problems.
The EPA plans to hold a public hearing on the standards May 4. Members of the public can register to attend and provide comments. More information is on the agency's website.
Sutherland said that while the EPA works to finalize the rules, there’s already money available for the Commonwealth and other states to start addressing contamination. The bipartisan Infrastructure Law contains $5 billion in Federal monies.
She added that beginning in 2025, the agency is also requiring every public water supply system in the country serving 3,300 or more residents to regularly monitor for PFAS compounds.
”So by the end of 2025,” said Sutherland, “we’re going to have much more detailed information on all the drinking-water systems in the country, as to whether they’re contaminated with these chemicals at a level of health concern.”
The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators says while the new standards are a step in the right direction, federal funding won't be enough to cover construction projects in addition to ongoing increased operation and maintenance costs.
Written by Nadia Ramlagan, and provided by KY News Service.