Up to 42,000 Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Could Be Polluting US Water

Most likely sources of contamination include solid waste landfills, wastewater treatment plants and petroleum refiners

9 Nov 2021 by OOSKAnews Info
Washington DC, United States

As many as 42,000 unique potential sources of the toxic per “forever chemicals”, or PFAS, could be polluting surface water or drinking water in communities across the US, says a new study launched by Environmental Working Group (EWG) on October 12. The new information serves to underscore the extent of the potential pollution and will boost the call for wider testing and stricter regulation in the United States.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals) are a class of heat and water-resistant chemicals that are used in a wide variety of applications including flame-retardants, and non-stick and industrial products, and are contained in many consumer goods such as raincoats, cookware and packaging. The chemicals are known carcinogens that do not degrade in the environment or in the human body.

Shortly after publishing the results of the study, the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) unveiled a series of steps to limit the pollution from PFAS.

EWG researchers analysed potential sources of PFAS contamination in drinking water supplies nationwide, using public data from an EPA database.

The most likely sources of contamination included solid waste landfills, wastewater treatment plants and petroleum refiners, scientists found.

“It is critical that the EPA start regulating PFAS – now,” said David Andrews, the study’s lead author and scientist at EWG. “Every community in the US is likely affected by PFAS contamination, but those living near or downstream from industrial facilities may be more at risk.”

Case studies of data available from California and Michigan show that PFAS contamination is common at many different types of sites and that widespread testing for PFAS in wastewater is crucial.

“It is urgent that ongoing releases of PFAS be identified. We need to stop non-essential uses of PFAS and use filters to reduce these compounds from our water,” added Andrews.

The EPA has since announced a strategic roadmap to confront PFAS contamination nationwide. This will include timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure water is safe to drink in every community. It will also require PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS chemicals.

“For far too long, families across America – especially those in underserved communities – have suffered from PFAS in their water, their air, or in the land their children play on,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

He said that regulations would “deliver protections to people who are hurting, by advancing bold and concrete actions that address the full lifecycle of these chemicals”.

US President Biden has called for more than $10 Billion USD in funding to address PFAS contamination through his Build Back Better agenda and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

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