The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just proposed new recommendations for cleaning up harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are polluting groundwater supplies across the United States. Problem is, the recommendations are based on an outdated health advisory from 2016. Since then, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has found that even levels about ten times lower than EPA’s current drinking water health advisory can pose health risks. The chemicals have been linked to cancer, immune system dysfunction, hormone disruption, infertility, and more. This is troubling, considering these “forever substances” are in everything from cookware and clothing, to the tap water of millions of people. According to the CDC, PFAS can be found in the blood of virtually every American.
As reported by the New York Times, the agency weakened the rule at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, one of the biggest PFAS polluters due to the chemicals in their firefighting foams. In fact, the DOD recently confirmed that it may have released PFAS chemicals at more than 400 sites across the country.
The good news: States facing PFAS contamination crises—like Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and California—are already taking action and setting the bar higher to protect public health.