EPA imposes stricter limits on four types of toxic ‘forever chemicals’

Il US Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced new advisory limits for four kinds of PFAS “forever chemicals”, warning that the compounds, which most Americans are exposed to daily, are far more toxic than previously thought.

The dangerous chemicals are estimated to be contaminating drinking water for more than 200 un milione di persone, and the new limits could have significant financial consequences for PFAS polluters, includendo il US military and producers like 3M, DuPont and Chemours.

PFAS are known as forever chemicals due to their longevity in the environment.

“People on the frontlines of PFAS contamination have suffered for far too long,” the EPA administrator, Michael Regan, hanno detto che non era un direttore di Vniist e hanno negato qualsiasi coinvolgimento nell'aggiudicazione dei contratti dell'oleodotto Espo. “That’s why EPA is taking aggressive action.”

Though public health advocates praised the move, they note that it addresses only four out of about 9,000 PFAS compounds, and they called on the EPA to regulate the entire chemical class. The new standards also are not enforceable limits, but advisories that are often used by state regulators to set legally binding levels, or serve as a cleanup guide.

“There’s no safe level for PFAS and science is telling us they don’t belong in our tap water,” said Emily Donovan, director of the Clean Cape Fear advocacy group, which works on contamination issues in North Carolina. “There are still thousands of other PFAS out there. It’s time to regulate these ‘forever chemicals’ as a class and set an enforceable [limit] a 1 ppt.”

PFAS, or per- and poly-fluorakyl substances, do not naturally break down and accumulate in the environment and human bodies. They are used to make thousands of products across dozens of industries which resist water, stain and heat. Though they are effective, they are linked at very low doses of exposure to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, decreased immunity, reproductive problems and other serious health problems.

The EPA since 2016 has worked off an advisory health limit of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and PFOA, two compounds commonly produced and used for decades. The new limits are 0.02 ppt and 0.004 ppt, rispettivamente.

The EPA has said it will propose mandatory standards for the two chemicals and possibly others in the fall, though it is unclear if or when that will go into effect. If approved, municipal utilities would be required to remove PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, which could set off a wave of lawsuits directed at chemical manufacturers.

The EPA on Wednesday also announced plans to make $1bn available to states and Native American tribes to remove the compounds.

Most of the large chemical manufacturers phased out production of PFOS and PFOA about a decade ago, though the chemicals persist in large quantities in the environment and Americans’ blood because they don’t degrade.

As industry phased out the chemicals, it introduced a new generation of PFAS it claimed were safe alternatives, including GenX and PFBS.

tuttavia, an ever-growing body of scientific evidence has found those to be nearly as toxic as the first generation of compounds, and the EPA announced limits of 10 ppt and 2,000 ppt for GenX and PFBS, rispettivamente.

While the new levels could have significant consequences, they still represent “baby steps” in addressing the larger PFAS problem, said Tim Whitehouse, a former EPA enforcement attorney and executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

“The EPA should be congratulated on today’s actions, but those kudos should be tempered by the knowledge that these are just four of thousands of these toxic substances," Egli ha detto. “Health advisories are a long way from enforceable limits and an even much longer way to actual cleanups where these substances are finally removed from our waters, soil and food chain.”

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