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Federal government announces new PFAS testing limits in drinking water

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 10, 2024

LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) — New regulations announced Wednesday by the federal government would put strict limits on two common types of PFAS: PFOA and PFOS. They are now limited to 4 parts per trillion in our drinking water.

That's tighter than the rules introduced by Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy in 2020. Those rules allowed for 8 parts per trillion on PFOA and 16 parts per trillion of PFOS.

7 Action News went inside Paragon Laboratories in Livonia, which says it was the first to begin PFAS testing in their lab back in 2018. Senior chemist and head of PFAS testing team Jalpa Patel showed us how it’s done.

It’s a complex and expensive multi-step process that takes two days to complete, detecting even the smallest trace of PFAS, which now the federal government says can be no more than 4 parts per trillion in drinking water.

Our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi discusses the dangers from PFAS:

Here are some of the health risks linked to 'forever chemicals'

Paragon says they test everything from wastewater to drinking water for companies, municipalities and water treatment plants.

"I'm grateful the state of Michigan was ahead of the curve when it comes to PFAS analysis,” Paragon vice president of customer experience Rich McKenzie said.

McKenzie says while methods of testing are still evolving, the lab they built in 2018 is separated from all other testing due to its sensitivity and special equipment.

“The results and the data we put out, it has to be accurate," McKenzie said, stressing the strict protocol to their work. "It's got to be right, so the EPA can know where we're at at any given time.”

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said they are still evaluating the new guidelines to integrate them in current testing, while the federal government is supplying nearly $20 million to Michigan to make it happen.

“The action being taken today is because we have a good understanding of the health impacts we can prevent and the levels to keep out of our drinking water,” said Danielle Carnival, head of the White House Cancer Moonshot.

Although these new guidelines were announced Wednesday, states still have three years to implement them.