What are PFAS, and why do they matter?
Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals,’ are chemicals that break down slowly over time and are widely used in everyday items.
The manufacturing and consumption of everyday household products like such as electronics, non-stick pots and pans, food packaging like pizza boxes and candy wrappers, stain and water-repellent used on carpets, upholstery and clothing, shampoos, dental floss, cosmetics, firefighting foam and more, puts PFAS into the environment, and it eventually ends up in our water.
Water companies do not create or produce PFAS chemicals – nor are they used in the water or wastewater treatment processes. However, NAWC members have proactively worked to control these dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ in our drinking water even in the absence of any state or federal requirements.
This is part of our commitment to providing safe, reliable drinking water for our communities.
Fighting PFAS for U.S. Consumers
America’s regulated water companies work daily to provide high-quality and affordable water and wastewater services and have invested millions of dollars to protect communities across the nation from the dangers posed by PFAS.
NAWC members strategically invest in critical U.S. systems every year to ensure water delivered to homes and employers meets or exceeds all health standards. In fact, the 15 largest NAWC members alone invest more than $5 billion annually to improve community water systems across the country.
NAWC and its members support the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in establishing a national drinking water standard for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), two kinds of PFAS. And will continue to urge regulators to take further action to hold polluters accountable for the cleanup costs associated with PFAS.
NAWC’s member companies support the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) establishment of a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS and urge regulators to do more to hold polluters accountable for the costs associated with treating PFAS.
Establishing a national standard for addressing these harmful chemicals provides clarity to all utilities, their customers and states while placing all water and wastewater systems in the same boat to navigate these uncharted waters.
Make no mistake – addressing the PFAS in the nation’s water supply will cost billions of dollars. It’s a cost that under the current structure will disproportionately fall on water and wastewater customers in small communities and low-income families. Instead of coming from the pockets of water and wastewater customers and utilities, the polluters should be held directly responsible for the cleanup costs.
NAWC is calling on Congress and the EPA to enact laws and regulations to ensure that those who manufactured and used PFAS chemicals are responsible for funding cleanup and treatment and to protect water and wastewater customers from having to fund further cleanup efforts.