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New Drinking Water Limits On 4 PFAS Chemicals Due Out Jan. 1

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

New state limits on four types of PFAS chemicals in drinking water are due out New Year's Day.

The proposals, if approved, would create new treatment and testing requirements for all public water systems in the state.

The new limits will cover four chemicals from the broad class of nonstick, waterproof or otherwise resistant industrial substances.

PFAS chemicals are thought to cause serious human health problems, and they've turned up in some water supplies across the state.

Department of Environmental Services spokesman Jim Martin says it's been a scramble to meet the legislature's Jan. 1 deadline for proposing the new rules.

"[We’re] working very diligently to do so, with a lot of staff putting in a lot of extra time and effort to do so,” he says.

The new limits will account for existing health studies on PFAS and estimated compliance costs for water suppliers.

They'll require more public input and legislative approval once proposed.

Advocates also recently asked the Department of Environmental Services to consider regulating all PFAS together, rather than one by one.

Martin says they'll have to wait to discuss that idea during feedback on these forthcoming regulations, known as maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs.

"Undertaking the four PFAS chemicals and developing MCLs for those is quite an undertaking in and of itself,” he says.

Advocates hope the new limits will reflect research from the Centers for Disease Control.

Scientists there say PFAS chemicals may be harmful at far lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency and state currently advise.

Annie has covered the environment, energy, climate change and the Seacoast region for NHPR since 2017. She leads the newsroom's climate reporting project, By Degrees.
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