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From:
Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Sun, 23 Feb 2020 01:33:56 -0600
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https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/21/avalanche-public-pressure-forces-trumps-epa-regulate-pfas-water-safety-experts-warn

Published on Friday, February 21, 2020 by Common Dreams
<https://www.commondreams.org>
'Avalanche of Public Pressure' Forces Trump's EPA to Regulate PFAS, But
Water Safety Experts Warn of More Delays

"States should not wait for the EPA to act."
by Julia Conley, staff writer
<https://www.commondreams.org/author/julia-conley-staff-writer>
1 Comments
<https://commons.commondreams.org/t/avalanche-of-public-pressure-forces-trumps-epa-to-regulate-pfas-but-water-safety-experts-warn-of-more-delays/74053>

The EPA took a step toward regulating PFAS, often called "forever
chemicals," in drinking water on Thursday. (Photo: EPA
<https://www.flickr.com/photos/usepagov/15054813052>/Flickr)

Safe drinking water advocates applauded the public pressure which forced
the EPA on Thursday to announce it would regulate substances known as
"forever chemicals"—but warned the new rules could take years to have an
impact on water safety.

Public interest organizations like the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
and Food & Water Watch for years pressured the EPA to limit per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS
<https://earthjustice.org/features/breaking-down-toxic-pfas>, in drinking
water. The agency on Thursday announced it had proposed
<https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/483972-epa-will-regulate-forever-chemicals-in-drinking-water>
a "regulatory determination" period to set a national drinking standard for
two of the thousands of substances which fall under the PFAS category:
PFOA, formerly used to make Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in
Scotchgard.

"EPA has wasted decades deciding whether to regulate PFAS. Today's decision
shows that an avalanche of public pressure and overwhelming science is
finally forcing EPA to act."
—Melanie Benesh, EWG"EPA has wasted decades deciding whether to regulate
PFAS," said
<https://www.ewg.org/release/under-pressure-epa-moves-forward-drinking-water-standards-pfoa-and-pfos>EWG
legislative attorney Melanie Benesh. "Today's decision shows that an
avalanche of public pressure and overwhelming science is finally forcing
EPA to act."

Benesh warned, however, that it "could take many more years before a
drinking water standard is finalized," and advised state regulators to set
their own safety standards.

"States should not wait for the EPA to act," she said in a statement.
<https://www.ewg.org/release/under-pressure-epa-moves-forward-drinking-water-standards-pfoa-and-pfos>

The environmental law group Earthjustice estimates
<https://earthjustice.org/features/breaking-down-toxic-pfas> that PFAS
contaminate the drinking water of at least 16 million people in 33 states
and Puerto Rico, and groundwater in at least 38 states.

In a study released by EWG last month, only one location out of 44 places
in 31 states and the District of Columbia was found to have tap water with
no detectable PFAS. Miami, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and the northern New
Jersey suburbs of New York City have been found to have some of the highest
levels of the substances.

PFAS have been linked to certain cancers, reproductive health harms, and
other public health concerns. Environmental scientists call them "forever
chemicals" because they don't break down easily in the environment and can
stay in a person's system for decades after exposure.

The EPA recommends that drinking water contain no more that 70 parts per
trillion (ppt) of PFAS, but the standard is not mandatory and is far higher
than the level recommended by EWG and several independent studies: just 1
ppt.

"EPA's lax attitude toward industry's responsibility to monitor and cleanup
the industry chemical is putting 2.3 million children who attend school
less than five miles from PFAS contamination sites at risk," tweeted the
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

The @EPA <https://twitter.com/EPA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>'s lax attitude
toward industry’s responsibility to monitor and cleanup the industry
chemical #PFAS
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/PFAS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> is putting
2.3 million children who attend school less than 5 miles from PFAS
contamination sites at risk. We need to #ProtectKids
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/ProtectKids?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> not
industry. https://t.co/djpjkfTc1J

— Union of Concerned Scientists (@UCSUSA) February 20, 2020
<https://twitter.com/UCSUSA/status/1230598023924899854?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>

The EPA's Thursday announcement begins a two-year period during which it
will determine a new safety standard. It could take years, however, to
actually enforce the new regulations. The agency also "appears poised to
approve four new varieties of PFAS in 2020," according to
<https://www.huffpost.com/entry/epa-pfas-dangerous-chemicals_n_5e384be0c5b69a19a4b39504>
a recent *HuffPost* report.

"EPA's process to regulate chemicals like PFOA and PFOS presumes they are
innocent until proven guilty," tweeted
<https://twitter.com/drdavidmichaels/status/1230626353168494593> Dr. David
Michaels, former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
(OSHA). "Opponents of regulation can delay the process by manufacturing
uncertainty about scientific evidence. We badly need a new system that
protects people rather than chemicals."


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