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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new initiative December 4 to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a diverse group of man-made chemicals, which include Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS). These compounds are resistant to heat, water, and oil and are persistent in both the environment and the human body.

According to the agency’s press release, EPA will:

  • Identify a set of near-term actions that EPA will take to help support local communities.
  • Enhance coordination with states, tribes and federal partners to provide communities with critical information and tools to address PFAS.
  • Increase ongoing research efforts to identify new methods for measuring PFAS and filling data gaps.
  • Expand proactive communications efforts with states, tribes, partners and the American public about PFAS and their health effects.

In 2016, EPA established a lifetime health advisory level (HAL) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). When both chemicals are found within a system, the combined lifetime HAL is 70 ppt. EPA has not established a national primary drinking water regulation for either PFOA or PFOS.