(HealthDay News) — U.S. water utilities will be required to remove certain “forever chemicals” from drinking water as the Biden administration sets first-ever limits on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, better known as known as PFAS.

Nearly all Americans have PFAS in their bloodstream. The toxic chemicals are found in an enormous range of goods from dental floss to waterproof clothing. The chemicals are linked to cancer, liver damage, fertility issues, thyroid problems, and asthma. The chemicals are also a threat to wildlife.

“EPA’s proposal to establish a national standard for PFAS in drinking water is informed by the best available science,” Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in an agency news release. It “would help provide states with the guidance they need to make decisions that best protect their communities,” he added. “This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants.”

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The EPA aims to limit these chemicals in water to near-zero levels. About 200 million Americans may now be exposed to PFAS in their water, according to a 2020 study. Previously, advice was that drinking water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS chemicals. Now, that advice has been revised to no more than 0.004 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanoic acid and 0.02 parts per trillion of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid.

The EPA will accept public comments on the regulation for 60 days

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