Environmental Advocates NY Statement on EPA’s PFAS Drinking Water Standards Announcement

EPA’s proposal is significantly lower than New York’s—challenging Governor Hochul to follow suit

Today, the US EPA proposed new Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS, as well as a new hazard index for four additional PFAS (PFNA, PFBS, PFHxS, and GenX). These are the first new toxic chemicals that EPA has decided to regulate in drinking water in over twenty years.

Rob Hayes, Director of Clean Water for Environmental Advocates NY, issued the following statement:

“Everyone who wants to drink clean water should be overjoyed at EPA’s announcement. This is the national leadership on drinking water safety that we’ve been waiting for. The proposed MCLs for PFOA and PFOS will lead to cleaner drinking water for over a million New Yorkers. Today’s historic victory is the result of years-long advocacy by PFAS-impacted communities and scientists, who demanded that our government stop exposure to these cancer-causing chemicals.

While it will take EPA time to finalize their proposal, Governor Hochul and the NYS Department of Health can act much more quickly. The Governor’s administration must swiftly revise their proposed PFAS regulations, which are not in line with today’s EPA announcement. DOH is legally required to meet EPA’s drinking water protection “floor” – they should immediately adopt EPA’s levels and go farther by strengthening proposed standards on 23 additional PFAS. The Governor and DOH have the power to act quickly. They must use it to keep our drinking water safe.”


EPA proposed MCLs of 4 parts per trillion (ppt) each for PFOA and PFOS, close to the lowest level at which these chemicals can be reliably detected. EPA also proposed a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal, a non-enforceable health advisory level, of 0 ppt for PFOA and PFOS, confirming that there is no safe level of exposure.

EPA’s proposed MCLs are significantly lower than the NYS Department of Health’s current PFOA and PFOS MCLs of 10 ppt each.

In September 2022, DOH issued a proposal to regulate 23 additional PFAS in drinking water, which has not been finalized. Environmental Advocates NY has identified at least 20 communities in New York that would exceed EPA’s proposed MCLs but not DOH’s current or proposed MCLs, including Ossining, Peekskill, and South Glens Falls (page 12-15 of these public comments).

Water utilities nationwide will be required to test for these “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to harmful health effects like thyroid disease and kidney cancer. The levels set for the MCLs and hazard index will define the threshold at which drinking water cleanup is required.

There are billions of dollars in federal and state funds available to help water utilities install new treatment technology, including through the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and NYS Clean Water Infrastructure Act. Scientists have determined that the costs to public health of PFAS exposure far outweigh the costs to remove PFAS from drinking water.