Source: CBS Sunday Morning, Aug 21, 2022
EPA Proposes Designating Certain PFAS Chemicals as Hazardous Substances Under Superfund to Protect People’s Health
WASHINGTON (August 26, 2022) – Following through on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle environmental injustice and improve public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a significant action under Administrator Regan’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap <https://epa.gov/pfas/pfas-strategicroadmap-epas-commitments-action-2021-2024> to protect people and communities from the health risks posed by certain PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” EPA is proposing to designate two of the most widely used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “Superfund.” This rulemaking would increase transparency around releases of these harmful chemicals and help to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.
The proposal applies to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), including their salts and structural isomers, and is based on significant evidence that PFOA and PFOS may present a substantial danger to human health or welfare or the environment. PFOA and PFOS can accumulate and persist in the human body for long periods of time and evidence from laboratory animal and human epidemiology studies indicates that exposure to PFOA and/or PFOS may lead to cancer, reproductive, developmental, cardiovascular, liver, and immunological effects.
“Communities have suffered far too long from exposure to these forever chemicals. The action announced today will improve transparency and advance EPA’s aggressive efforts to confront this pollution, as outlined in the Agency’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Under this proposed rule, EPA will both help protect communities from PFAS pollution and seek to hold polluters accountable for their actions.”
Many known and potential sources of PFAS contamination are near communities already overburdened with pollution. If finalized, the rulemaking would trigger reporting of PFOA and PFOS releases, providing the Agency with improved data and the option to require cleanups and recover cleanup costs to protect public health and encourage better waste management.
PFAS Actions Under The New Roadmap
Today’s actions represent a significant milestone within the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitments to combat PFAS pollution and safeguard drinking water, and specifically EPA’s October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Under the Roadmap, EPA is working across the agency to protect the public from the health impacts of PFAS.
EPA has taken a number of actions to deliver progress on PFAS including:
- Releasing drinking water health advisories for four PFAS – using the best available science to tackle PFAS pollution, protect public health, and provide critical information quickly and transparently;
- Making available $1 billion in grant funding through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law;
- Issuing the first Toxic Substances Control Act PFAS test order under the National PFAS Testing Strategy;
- Adding five PFAS Regional Screening and Removal Management Levels that EPA uses to help determine if cleanup is needed;
- Publishing draft aquatic life water quality criteria for PFOA and PFOS;
- Issuing a memo to proactively address PFAS in Clean Water Act permitting;
- Publishing a new draft total adsorbable fluorine wastewater method; and
- Issuing the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule to improve EPA’s understanding of the frequency that 29 PFAS are found in the nation’s drinking water systems and at what levels and preparing to propose a PFAS National Drinking Water Regulation by the end of 2022.
What Is PFAS
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (known as PFAS) are long-lasting compounds that are showing up in soil, ground water, drinking water sources, and even rainfall and have been linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, and other ailments. By some estimates, this toxic family of chemicals can be found in the blood of nearly every person on the planet. Correspondent Lee Cowan looks at how the chemicals got here, and talks with families, farmers, and health advocates fighting for clean, safe water.
Biden-Harris Administration Launches Plan to Combat PFAS Pollution
Eight Agencies Announce Steps, including New EPA Roadmap, to Take Comprehensive Approach to Address PFAS & Advancing Clean Air, Water, and Food
Biden-Harris Administration Combatting PFAS Pollution to Safeguard Clean Drinking Water for All Americans
$1 Billion from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Made Available to Communities, First Tranche of $5 Billion to Help Communities Tackle Water Contaminants
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