GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As environmental experts continue to learn more about the dangers and the threat of PFAS pollution, federal, state and local governments are committing more money to fix the problem.
A new study from Bluefield Research estimates more than $1 billion will be spent each year on PFAS treatment by 2030.
An estimated $334.6 million will be spent in 2022 between federal, state and local governments. Spending is expected to rise as more states, including Michigan, discover new PFAS pollution sites and tighten PFAS regulations.
“Without a doubt, PFAS has moved to the forefront of concerns for water utilities and the public at large,” Lauren Balsamo, a municipal water analyst for Bluefield Research, said in a release. “This is the first time the federal government is expected to issue PFAS standards as well as dedicated funding to address remediation. At the same time, states continue to adopt their own stringent regulations.”
PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — is a giant group of chemical compounds. PFAS were first developed in the 1940s and incorporated into all sorts of products in the years that followed, including non-stick pans, dental floss and shampoo.
Studies in the decades that followed slowly illustrated more negative health impacts from PFAS, including liver damage, gastrointestinal issues and pregnancy complications. In 2005, an advisory panel from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency first announced that PFAS is a likely carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer.
Michigan has already adopted stricter standards for the chemical compound in drinking water. In 2020, the state legislature changed the standards from 70 parts per trillion to 16 ppt for PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and 8 ppt for PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).
The federal government has also taken steps to address PFAS pollution. The EPA announced a wide-ranging “Strategic Roadmap” in October 2021. Among the goals are to set a new national standard for drinking water by the fall of 2023.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last November, included a $55 billion investment in public water infrastructure, with $10 billion specifically set aside to address PFAS and other contaminants.