Biden Proposes First National Restrictions on Toxic ‘Permanent Chemicals’

The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, USA on January 19, 2020.

Lucy Nicholson | Reuters

EPA on Tuesday proposed the first nationwide restrictions on so-called “persistent chemicals” in drinking water after discovering compounds that are more dangerous than previously known, even in undetectable quantities.

The chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, have been voluntarily phased out by US manufacturers. But they are resistant to degradation in the environment and can linger in the human body when consumed. As a result, most people in the US have been exposed to PFAS and have the chemicals in their blood. in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the 1940s, chemicals have been used to make products waterproof, stick-resistant, and stain-resistant, and can be found in food packaging, cookware, clothing, and firefighting foam, among others. The chemicals have been linked to health problems, including some cancers, liver damage, and low birth weight.

environmental working group, environmental organization, found 41 828 industrial and municipal objects known to produce, use, or are suspected of using PFAS, with some of the highest levels found in the cities of Miami, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.

EPA’s proposed standards cover six PFAS that have contaminated the nation’s drinking water supply. The proposal would regulate PFOA and PFOS as separate pollutants, as well as four other PFASs – PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS and GenX chemicals – as a mixture.

For PFOA and PFOS, the agency has proposed a mandatory drinking water limit of four parts per trillion for each chemical. Otherwise, the EPA proposed a mandatory limit based on a hazard index designed to account for cumulative exposure to chemicals.

The department said they expect the final approval of the regulation by the end of the year. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that if the rule is fully implemented, it will prevent thousands of deaths and cut tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses.

“Communities across the country have suffered for far too long from the constant threat of PFAS contamination,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. “The EPA’s proposal to set a national standard for PFAS in drinking water is based on the best available science and will help provide states with the guidance they need to make decisions that best protect their communities.”

The regulation also requires public water systems to monitor chemicals, notify the public, and reduce PFAS pollution if levels exceed proposed regulatory standards.

“Today’s proposal is a necessary and long overdue step towards resolving the national PFAS crisis, but what comes next is just as important,” said Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, attorney for Earthjustice.

The EPA must resist efforts to weaken this proposal, take swift action to finalize the health safety limits of these six chemicals, and tackle the remaining PFAS that continue to poison drinking water and harm people across the country,” Kalmus-Katz said. .

The EPA was first alerted to the presence of PFAS in drinking water in 2001, but over the years has failed to establish a nationwide legal limit. Last year, the agency issued health guidelines that set health risk thresholds for chemicals close to zero, replacing 2016 guidelines that set a higher threshold.

Representatives from American chemical companies such as the American Chemistry Council opposed the Biden administration declaring PFAS chemicals hazardous and hazardous. claimed the rule was costly and inefficient.

Agency last year too invited states and territories apply for $1 billion under the bipartisan infrastructure law to address PFAS in drinking water, especially in disadvantaged communities. Grant funding will provide technical assistance, water quality testing, contractor training, and installation of centralized treatment technologies and systems.

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