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Under strong pressure from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will move ahead this year with a process that could lead to setting a safety threshold for a group of highly toxic chemicals in drinking water.
Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the immediate focus would be on two of the most common chemicals in the group, both of which have been phased out by manufacturers but remain in the environment and have suspected links to health threats ranging from cancer to decreased fertility.
End - Year - EPA - Determination - Chemicals
By the end of this year, the EPA will "propose a regulatory determination" for the chemicals, the next step toward establishing limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Wheeler said in Philadelphia as he released the agency's policy for dealing with the substances.
The EPA has faced criticism from lawmakers in both major political parties as an increasing number of states have discovered perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS, in public water systems and private wells. The synthetic chemicals are found in firefighting foam, nonstick pots and pans, water-repellent clothing and many other household and personal items.
Environmentalists - Agency
Environmentalists have criticized the agency, saying it had not acted fast enough.
Scientific studies have found "associations" between the chemicals and cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and other health issues.
Wheeler - Agency - Approach - Cross-agency - Plan
Wheeler described his agency's approach as "the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA."
"We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect and address PFAS," he said.
EPA - Forms - PFAS - PFOA - PFOS
The EPA also is moving toward listing the two common forms of PFAS, known as PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances and will issue interim groundwater cleanup recommendations for contaminated sites, he said. The agency will propose adding PFAS chemicals to a drinking...
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