Press Releases

SWBNO Responds to EPA Draft Rule Limiting Six PFAS Compounds in Drinking Water

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 14 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — On Tuesday, March 14, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued proposed limits on six chemicals in drinking water: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX. All six belong to a large family of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Manufacturers have used PFAS to make nonstick and stain-resistant products since the 1940s, but recent studies have linked these chemicals to potential health risks. These substances can end up in landfills, in the soil, or are released from industrial sites, allowing PFAS to make their way into drinking water sources.

Under the proposal, the EPA would limit PFOA and PFOS to 4 ng/L, a concentration roughly equivalent to one teaspoon spread across 500 Olympic swimming pools. The draft rule also proposes a joint limit on the other four chemicals (PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX). According to the U.S. EPA, “water systems would use an approach called a hazard index to determine if the combined levels of these PFAS pose a potential risk. This approach protects communities from the additive effects of multiple PFAS when they occur together.”

In 2021 and 2022, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO) tested its drinking water for PFOS and PFOA. All samples were below EPA’s proposed limits, with the highest readings for PFOS at 2.8 ng/L and PFOA at 2.6 ng/L. SWBNO will be one of the first utilities in the country to test its water as part of a nationwide study of 29 different PFAS, including all six compounds covered by the proposed regulation.

“Our customers’ safety is our top priority,” said SWBNO Executive Director Ghassan Korban. “I applaud the EPA’s action to regulate these compounds. We have already begun preparing for these proposed regulations and look forward to collaborating with state and federal regulators as they finalize the rules. Although we already appear to meet the proposed standards for PFOS and PFOA, we will collect more data and explore ways to reduce PFAS in our water even further.”

“While focusing on technical and quality of life solutions to infrastructure challenges, we must ensure the health and wellbeing of our residents by minimizing exposure to dangerous chemicals, especially when it comes to drinking water," said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. "The EPA’s proposed regulations on limiting 6 PFAS Compounds in drinking water is a positive step for public health across the nation. I am proud of our proactive methods over the last two years to prepare for these proposed regulations and remain in full support the Sewerage and Water Board’s transparent, multifaceted approach to this issue."

Chad Lavoie, SWBNO’s Water Purification Superintendent, elaborated: “The drinking water provided by SWBNO continues to meet federal standards and is safe for customers to drink. While the proposed regulations are a positive step, it’s important to know most PFAS exposure comes from everyday products – nonstick food packaging and cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and cosmetics, to name a few. I hope our customers will take the time to learn about this issue and take steps to reduce their exposure to PFAS.”

SWBNO will continue to test its water for a range of PFAS throughout 2023. For more information about PFAS in drinking water and SWBNO’s latest testing results, visit

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