EPA blasted for failing to set drinking water limits for ‘forever chemicals’

Science | AAAS | 2/14/2019 | Staff
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After intense pressure from politicians and environmental and public health groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today published a plan to tackle industrial chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are showing up in drinking water supplies across the nation. But the plan is vague and lacks regulatory teeth, and it will do little to reduce health risks.

PFAS chemicals are widely used to make nonstick and water-proof products, including foams used to fight fires. The compounds can persist in the environment for decades, leading some to dub them “forever chemicals.” And studies have linked them to cancer and developmental defects, raising health concerns.

May - EPA - Plan - Substances - Drinking

In May 2018, EPA said it would develop a plan to tackle the substances in drinking water. Many were hoping the agency would set national regulatory limits on PFAS concentrations in water supplies. But the plan released today puts little meat on the bones of last year’s promises.

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EPA has “only laid out a small, tentative step toward considering how to manage this widespread threat. This proposal doesn’t mean the EPA will take serious action—it could just kick the can down the road for years, leaving vulnerable communities at risk,” said Genna Reed, the lead science and policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a statement.

End - Year - EPA - Officials - Process

By the end of the year, EPA officials say they will begin the process of setting legal drinking water limits on two of the most well-known PFAS compounds, known as PFOA and PFOS. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press conference that he “can’t say how long it would take” for the limits to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Science | AAAS
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