DES MOINES — Water utilities in Iowa and nationwide would be required to monitor drinking water for six so-called “forever chemicals” under a proposal from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The measure sets legally enforceable levels for PFAS chemicals in drinking water. The health concerns of these chemicals include cancer and decreased fertility.
University of Iowa researcher David Cwiertny says the proposal is a fairly aggressive nationwide standard. Cwiertny says, “It puts a lot more community water systems in play that will need to figure out treatment to be in compliance and deliver water that the EPA would deem as safe.”
Corey McCoid, supervisor of Water Supply Operations at the Iowa DNR, says the agency has been testing for PFAS across the state. He says the department can only require drinking water providers to notify the public about what’s in their drinking water, at least until the EPA limit is in place. “One of the big challenges to this point is nobody knew what to treat for, or at what level,” McCoid says, “so you can’t design a new treatment plant, if that’s what’s needed, until you know what that final number is going to be.”
The DNR says six Iowa water supplies exceed the limit of the four-parts-per-trillion level that’s proposed by the feds. The E-P-A is taking public comments on the rules and hopes to finalize them by the end of this year.