Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia said in a statement she was “pleased a safe drinking water standard has finally been issued” for the chemicals. “No one should have to wonder if their water is safe to drink, and it’s critical that we get this important regulation right,” she said.
Mr. Regan made the announcement in North Carolina where he previously served as the state’s top environmental regulator. After startlingly high concentrations of the chemicals were found in several sources of public drinking water, he helped broker an agreement that required the Chemours Company to pay a $13 million fine.
“As a former state regulator, I was really looking for the kind of leadership from the federal government that E.P.A. is now demonstrating,” he said, adding the plan will protect communities from exposure to chemicals that are known to be dangerous and hold polluters accountable.
He also said money from a $9 billion package that Congress gave the E.P.A. last year as part of an infrastructure bill to invest in water programs will go toward helping states with costs.
In addition to endangering human health, PFAS chemicals also pose a problem for wildlife. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has created a map based on hundreds of studies showing where the pollutants have been detected in animals, fish and birds, threatening species like dolphins and endangered sea turtles.
Water utilities said they have been preparing for tough standards. Across the country, cities and states have already been cracking down on PFAS in drinking water. States that have proposed or adopted limits include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.