Questioning the EPA’s drinking water regulations

Public health experts say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not doing a good enough job of regulating dangerous chemicals in drinking water.

In a February 5, 2019 article in E&E News, several experts said that the EPA has been slow to establish regulations for water contaminants and to update existing ones. The article noted that industry often pushes back against proposed federal regulations, arguing that additional ones would be a financial burden.

According to the article, the EPA hasn’t regulated any new contaminants in drinking water since 1996. Last year, political appointees at the agency reportedly tried to block the release of a study showing that certain types of PFASs—per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, used in products ranging from nonstick pans to firefighting foams—may harm health at lower levels than previously thought. Recent reports suggest that the EPA does not plan to set a legal limit for these chemicals in drinking water.

Ronnie Levin, who previously worked at the EPA and who is now a visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told E&E News, “I don’t want anything to take away from how bad I think the Trump administration is on public health. But while this is not the finest hour for the EPA, EPA was always bad on drinking water.”

Read the E&E News article: ‘EPA was always bad on drinking water’

Learn more

Health risks of widely used chemicals may be underestimated (Harvard Chan School news)