The state of Wisconsin adopted PFAS chemicals administrative rules for the first time in the state’s history on Monday. These rules will require Wisconsin water to meet specific standards for PFAS chemicals, according to a Wisconsin Conservation Voters press release.
Despite initial pushback from conservatives on the Natural Resources Board in February, Wisconsin GOP will now allow these new regulations to be implemented, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
According to Wisconsin Public Radio, the new rules limit PFAS chemicals in drinking water to 70 parts per trillion and eight parts per trillion for almost all fish-supporting surface waters.
Wisconsin will receive $12.8 million per year over the next five years to get rid of contamination from PFAS in the drinking water. This is the largest federal water infrastructure investment ever made, a result of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
This Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory for four different PFAS in drinking water– and The EPA warned that these ‘forever chemicals’ pose a bigger risk than initially believed.
The EPA encouraged states to apply for the $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant funding to help combat the rising risk of PFAS in drinking water. The Agency, however, has not communicated set limits on PFAS through the Safe Drinking Water Act.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are a type of manmade chemicals found in products since the 1940s. PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment, according to Wisconsin Conservation Voters.
PFAS are often associated with water consumption and affect drinking water, animal consumption and swimming in affected water, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Though the extent of harm caused by these is unknown, these chemicals are linked to health concerns including reproductive effects in women, developmental setbacks in children and increased risk of some cancers.
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According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules has no objections to the regulations but made clear that they could suspend the rules if unlawfully implemented.
This rare Republican support marks an accomplishment for Gov. Tony Evers’ Water safety initiatives. In 2019, Evers issued Executive Order #40 declaring 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include recent national developments in PFAS regulations.