The Illinois EPA is planning to do an extensive investigation into local drinking water across the state. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. Kim announced plans to search for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in finished drinking water at all 1,749 community water supplies. Data gathered as part of this investigation will aid in the development of future Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) regulatory standards for PFAS. The statewide investigation is expected to take 12 to 15 months to complete.
PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. These chemicals are used to make household and commercial products that resist heat and chemical reactions and repel oil, stains, grease and water and are known to stay in humans and animals for long periods of time. Some scientific studies suggest that PFAS affect growth, learning and behavior of babies and older children; lower fertility rates; interfere with hormones; increase cholesterol levels; negatively affect the immune system; and cause certain types of cancers.
If PFAS chemicals are detected in local drinking water, the Illinois EPA says it will work with community water supplies to ensure residents are informed and to determine next steps to reducing exposure. The U.S. EPA established a federal Health Advisory for PFAS in 2016 but has taken no action to set drinking water standards. The data collected will help justify state regulations on the max contaminant level allowed. The Illinois EPA is also preparing to file proposed groundwater quality standards with the Illinois Pollution Control Board for five PFAS chemicals.