Reports: EPA fails to make drinking water safe from toxic PFAS

Media Contacts
Bart Johnsen-Harris

Environment America

WASHINGTON — Politico reported on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not establish federal limits in drinking water for two prevalent toxic chemicals. The agency’s forthcoming management plan for combatting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) lacks safeguards on PFOA and PFOS, two of the best-understood toxic PFAS chemicals. Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“These chemicals have contaminated drinking water from Michigan to North Carolina. In refusing to set limits for PFAS, EPA is abdicating its core mission to protect human health.

“Without a clear, health-based standard, there is no way to ensure our water is safe to drink. While action is needed to address contamination from all PFAS chemicals, EPA should at the very least be acting on these two—which are the best-studied and have the clearest direct health effects.

“The EPA’s decision not to set safety limits on these two chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act stands in jarring contrast to the agency’s admission, in this same management plan, that the chemicals should be designated as hazardous substances under Superfund. If a substance is too hazardous to be in the soil we walk on, it’s too hazardous to be in the water we drink.

“PFAS chemicals—used widely for nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, firefighting foam and more—present significant threats to our health. Research shows probable links between PFAS exposure and cancer, immune system deficiencies, high cholesterol, low fertility and developmental issues in children and infants. Moreover, the health impacts of PFAS are magnified because they accumulate in the food chain and persist for a long time in the environment.

“EPA’s failure to act not only impedes cleanup, but also leaves polluters free to continue production. We need to take a preventative approach by switching our economy to safer alternatives. These communities should never have had their water contaminated in the first place.”