Canada’s Strategy for Ensuring High-Quality Drinking Water: Addressing Forever Chemicals

Drinking water quality: Canada's plan for forever chemicals

“The US Tightens Limits on Toxic Forever Chemicals in Drinking Water – How Does Canada Measure Up?”

As the United States takes a step forward in setting national limits on toxic forever chemicals in drinking water, Canadian researchers have highlighted the lag in regulations in their own country. Despite acknowledging progress in reducing water contamination, concerns still persist about the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various consumer products in Canada.

The Problem with Forever Chemicals

From carpeting to non-stick cookware, PFAS have been widely used since the 1950s due to their durability and resistance to breaking down in the environment. However, studies have linked the presence of PFAS in Canadian freshwater sources and drinking water to serious health issues like cancer, low birth weight, and liver disease.

While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized regulations limiting certain PFAS in drinking water to four parts per trillion, Canada’s existing guidelines allow for significantly higher levels of these chemicals in the water supply.

Progress and Potential Limitations in Canada

Current proposals in Canada aim to establish a lower limit of 30 ng/L for all PFAS detected in drinking water, a move that has been met with both praise and criticism. Despite efforts to address the issue, experts like Satinder Kaur Brar of York University point out that Canada’s focus on drinking water limits may overlook other contaminated sources like food, soils, sediments, and air.

Fe de Leon from the Canadian Environmental Law Association acknowledges Canada’s steps toward stricter regulations but questions whether these measures are sufficient to combat the far-reaching impacts of PFAS on the environment and human health.

Challenges and Solutions

One of the main barriers to regulating PFAS effectively lies in the sheer number of these chemicals and the limited technologies available to eliminate them. With over 12,000 types of PFAS in existence, only a small fraction are currently measurable, posing a challenge in setting and enforcing limits on their presence in water sources.

Moreover, while Canada may not produce PFAS domestically, there is a need to monitor imported products contaminated with these chemicals. Efforts to address the issue must also consider industry concerns, as water utilities warn of increased costs associated with treatment systems to comply with stricter regulations.


The issue of toxic forever chemicals in drinking water is a complex and multifaceted one that requires collaboration and proactive measures from both the government and industries. As Canada navigates its path toward addressing the presence of PFAS in water sources, it is crucial to balance the need for regulation with practical solutions that account for technological limitations and potential economic impacts. By learning from the experiences of other countries like the United States and prioritizing the well-being of its citizens, Canada can work towards a more sustainable and healthier future for all.



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