Representation Image Bottle of water poured into glass congerdesign/Pixabay

The U.S. government is taking steps to ensure that Americans get access to less contaminated water.

More than 200 million Americans likely drink water that is contaminated with PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals, as per research. They have been linked to many health issues, including cancer.

On Tuesday, the U.S. government issued a rule that would need communities to test and treat their water for six chemicals, reported BBC.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that once implemented, it will "prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses."

PFAS, known as "forever chemicals," persist for years in the environment and are a class of thousands of chemicals.

The pollutants that repel oil, water and grease are used in everyday products like cookware, dental floss and firefighting foams.

Due to their lack of degradation, PFOS and PFOA remain widespread in the environment. But most of the companies in the US are not manufacturing the most well-studied types of PFAS chemicals.

Last year, the EPA found that the pollutants could cause harm at levels "much lower than previously understood." It added that almost no level of exposure was safe. The chemicals have been linked to health conditions like asthma, reproductive issues, decreased immune function and thyroid disease.

To find out how different levels of exposure can lead to various health effects, research is being done.

According to Sarah Doll, the national director of Safer States, which tracks regulations of the chemicals, the new limits will help close large gaps in existing PFAS drinking water regulations. They are currently imposed by only 10 states.

According to experts, the new rule would be finalized after a 60-day period of public comment.

The new rules could also cause worry among some communities regarding the safety of their drinking water, as PFAS is widespread.

Dr Carol Kwiatkowski of the Green Science Policy Institute, an environmental advocacy organization, said that the new treatment systems could take time to put into place.

The new regulations by the US government come as countries are thinking about how to regulate the forever chemicals.

The European Union and Canada are expected to propose and adapt new universal limits on PFAS levels in water for drinking soon.

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