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Court dismisses US chemical industry suit on PFAS in drinking water

American Chemistry Council had challenged US EPA advisory limits

by Cheryl Hogue
January 24, 2023

Chemical structure of perfluorooctanoic acid.

A federal court Jan. 23 threw out the chemical industry’s challenge to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits for two toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the suit brought by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an association of chemical manufacturers. A three-judge panel found that the industry group failed to demonstrate that any of its member companies were harmed by the EPA’s non-enforceable advisory limits on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Chemical structure of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Last June, the agency tightened its lifetime health advisory goals for PFOA and PFOS to 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) and 0.02 ppt, respectively, down from the 70 ppt level that the EPA recommended for the two compounds in 2016.

Utilities are not legally obligated to meet the goals for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. However, the EPA recommends utilities notify their customers when this level is exceeded.

The new advisory levels are a prelude to mandatory drinking water standards for the two chemicals, which the EPA is expected to propose this year.

Exposure to PFOA and PFOS, chemicals no longer intentionally made in the US, are linked to suppression of immune responses to vaccines, cardiovascular harm, and interference with development of fetuses and children.


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