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The funds are part of a multiyear program to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that contaminate drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $2 billion in federal funding for states to address hazardous contaminants in drinking water in small and underserved communities, according to a news release Monday.
The money, made available under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will be used to address chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS.
The funds will be distributed under the EPA’s Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant Program and used for water monitoring and treatments that will “help protect our smallest and most vulnerable communities from these persistent and dangerous chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a statement.
Manufacturers use PFAS in a wide variety of products like cookware, outdoor gear, makeup and food packaging to make them nonstick, waterproof or stain resistant. The so-called “forever chemicals” often end up contaminating the environment via landfills, hazardous waste sites and firefighting foam, seeping into soil and water and breaking down extremely slowly. Over time, they build up in humans and animals, and have been linked to increased risk for some cancers, immune system deficiencies and decreased fertility.
The federal grants can cover local contractors training, programs for household water-quality testing, and technical assistance to evaluate the levels of contaminants in a community.
The EPA also released an implementation document to help states, territories and communities understand how to use the funding.
In total, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $5 billion to reduce PFAS in drinking water over five years. The initiative is part of the Biden administration’s overarching effort to study and reduce PFAS in water, food and the environment.
To read more about the grant program, click here.
The funding comes as many states are gearing up to consider PFAS-related policies. This year, more than 30 states will consider at least 260 bills related to the toxic chemicals, according to Safer States, an alliance of environmental health organizations. The proposals include policies that would phase out PFAS use, regulate their disposal, and make product labels more transparent.
Molly Bolan is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.