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Environmental Health Division
PFAS Standards for Drinking Water
Frequently asked questions
What activity is happening at the federal level?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). This proposed regulation includes a non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) and an enforceable standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).
An MCLG is the level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. The MCLG is a non-enforceable, health-based level. The MCLs are enforceable standards and are based on MCLGs but also other factors such as available technology, treatment techniques, and costs.
EPA is proposing the new MCLs to be 4 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and 4 ppt for PFOA. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, public water systems are required to meet MCLs for contaminants. Public water systems are not required to meet MCLGs.
EPA is also proposing an enforceable limit for four PFAS (PFBS, PFHxS, GenX and PFNA) that would be evaluated in combination with each other using an approach called a Hazard Index. A hazard index is calculated by comparing a measured drinking water value with a standard.
What are the next steps in the EPA process?
EPA is holding a 60-day public comment period for the rule. Comments can be provided in the public docket associated with this rulemaking at regulations.gov, identified by Docket ID Number: EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0114.
EPA will consider all public comments in informing the development of the final regulation. For more information and instructions on how to submit input to the public docket, visit Commenting on EPA Dockets. EPA will also hold a virtual public hearing on May 4, 2023 where the public is invited to provide EPA with verbal comments.
After reviewing and incorporating the public comments, EPA anticipates finalizing the rule by the end of 2023 or early 2024. After the rule is finalized, public water systems will have a few years before they are required to meet the new MCLs.
We will share information on future federal PFAS actions as it becomes available from EPA.
For more information about these federal activities, visit the EPA page, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
How will Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) use the draft values from EPA?
While the draft MCLs will have no immediate impact on public water systems in the state, and no immediate action is required, MDH will continue to test for PFAS in systems across the state and provide guidance to systems when their results indicate a potential health concern based on current health-based values.
The draft MCLs are not enforceable. Until the final MCLs are released, we will use the draft values to target our efforts and identify actions we can take with communities in preparation for the final MCLs.
MDH is currently re-evaluating PFOS and PFOA under its Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program. The goal of the re-evaluations is to identify whether existing guidance values are up-to-date with the current available scientific information as well as to update the guidance to the most current MDH risk assessment methodology. We are using our usual rigorous processes to develop values that are best for Minnesota’s unique populations and communities, with a goal of completing this work in 2023.
How can I find out more about PFAS in my drinking water?
MDH is testing community water systems (CWSs) across the state for PFAS. Our Interactive Dashboard for PFAS Testing in Drinking Water shows CWSs' testing status, testing results, and whether results are below or above available health-based guidance values.
MDH will continue to use its health-based guidance on the dashboard. Once MDH has completed its re-evaluation of PFOS and PFOA health-based guidance values, the dashboard will be updated as needed.
Where can I go for more information or for communications resources?
The EPA page Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) has up-to-date information about federal activities. There are also several factsheets available there with more information and frequently asked questions:
- EPA's Proposal to Limit PFAS in Drinking Water (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (PDF)
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulation FAQs for Drinking Water Primacy Agencies (PDF)
What about PFAS and private wells?
People using private wells can find information about PFAS risks, testing, and treatment at Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Private Wells.
What are my options to reduce PFAS exposure?
If you have concerns about your health, you can take steps to reduce your potential exposure to PFAS from drinking water in your home. Visit PFAS and Home Treatment of Water for information about household drinking water treatment. Other ways to reduce PFAS exposure can be found at PFAS and Health.