Attorney General Mayes Urges EPA to Finalize Proposed PFAS Drinking Water Standards

PHOENIX—Less than a week after suing water polluters, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, as part of a 17-state coalition, filed comments to the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) supporting the agency’s proposal to set enforceable drinking water standards for six per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—more commonly known as PFAS or “forever” chemicals.  

“PFAS clearly meet the threshold for the EPA to set enforceable drinking water standards, and I urge the agency to finalize its proposed standards for these so-called forever chemicals quickly,” said Attorney General Mayes. “The EPA should also make resources available to public water systems so that the financial burden of removing these chemicals does not fall unfairly on consumers.” 

Today’s letter is Attorney General Mayes’ most recent action to fight PFAS contamination. Last week, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against PFAS manufacturers for failing to inform state regulators and consumers of the risks associated with these chemicals. 

The States expressed support for the EPA’s proposed rule to set Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) for six PFAS regularly found in drinking water, in addition to a Hazard Index approach to regulating four PFAS individually and as a mixture. 

The MCL and MCLGs would apply to: PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, GenX, PFNA, and PFBS. The Hazard Index would apply to: PFHxS, GenX, PFNA, and PFBS 

While supportive of the proposed rule, the the coalition urges EPA to:  

  • make technical and engineering resources available to public water systems so that the financial burden of removing PFAS does not unfairly fall on ratepayers and customers;  
  • finalize the drinking water standards quickly; and  
  • consider drinking water standards for other PFAS after finalizing the rule.  

PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. Those contaminants may be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals.  

Epidemiologic studies have shown potential adverse human health effects from exposure to some PFAS include increased serum cholesterol, immune dysregulation, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and kidney and testicular cancers. Exposure to certain types of PFAS is also associated with low birth weight in humans, suppressed immune system response, dyslipidemia, impaired kidney function, and delayed onset of menstruation. 

Across the country, PFAS contamination is often found at military bases, firefighting training centers, civilian airports, and industrial facilities.  

PFAS chemicals tend to be persistent in the environment and have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam and consumer products. Some states with significant PFAS contamination are spending a significant amount of money to address the contamination in public drinking water systems and investigate numerous areas and sources of potential contamination. 

The attorneys general state in the letter that “[o]ur states face substantial threats to public health and the environment from PFAS” and that “[w]e strongly support EPA’s proposed action to set national standards to protect the public from the harmful health impacts of PFAS in drinking water.” 

In addition to Attorney General Mayes, attorneys general from the following states signed the letter: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.