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Understanding PFAS & Water

Tom Flanagin

The presence of PFAS in water has been a focus of media attention, much of it confusing. As the trade association representing the chemical manufacturing industry, we’d like to set the record straight on PFAS:

Today’s PFAS are highly regulated, and our industry is committed to protecting and preserving sources of drinking water. Overbroad, one-size-fits-all regulation is not the answer.

Today’s PFAS Are Highly Regulated

Today’s PFAS have been subject to review by regulators prior to introduction into commerce and are subject to ongoing review. PFAS used in commerce are supported by a robust body of rigorous scientific health and safety data.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established drinking water health advisories for the two most common PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) based on the agency’s assessment of the latest peer-reviewed science. The EPA has established the health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS in water at 70 parts per trillion. EPA has announced that it will develop national drinking water standards for these two substances.

Get the Facts on PFAS and Water

A national survey of drinking water conducted by the EPA from 2013 to 2015 indicated that less than 2 percent of public drinking water supplies in the U.S. had detectable levels of the PFAS under review.

Health effects attributed to PFAS in water relate to specific, older chemistries that are no longer produced in the United States.

Today’s PFAS are Necessary

PFAS are diverse chemistries that make possible the products that power our lives— including cellphones, tablets and telecommunications we use every day to connect with friends and family; aircraft that are critical to the U.S. military; alternative energy sources essential to sustainability goals; and medical devices that help keep us healthy.

There are not commercially available substitutes for PFAS in many of these applications.

PFAS Regulation Can’t be One-Size-Fits-All

Simply stated, not all PFAS are the same.

The patchwork of state-based standards emerging over the last several months are overbroad, and not science-based. Moreover, they cause confusion as to the safety of PFAS.

The EPA is spearheading efforts to develop science-based standards for addressing PFAS, which has been an active and ongoing priority. ACC hopes that science-based standards from EPA will give Americans greater confidence in the safety of their water supply and help to eliminate some of the confusion that exists around PFAS.

Our Industry Is Committed to Water Safety

The members of the American Chemistry Council are committed to responsible stewardship of our nation’s water resources. We must protect and preserve drinking water sources.

The chemical industry plays a vital role in developing the products and technologies that enable clean water. Technological progress made possible by advances in chemistry will bolster America’s efforts in water conservation, sanitation, reuse, and the transformation of contaminated water into clean, safe drinking water for people in the United States and around the world.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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