The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it proposes to label certain “forever chemicals” that are found in hundreds of household items and pollute drinking water systems across the country as hazardous substances.
There are thousands of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. Since the 1940s, manufacturers have used the chemicals to make coatings and products that can repel water, grease, heat and oil. The chemicals break down slowly over time and leach into water and soil, and have been found in the blood of people and animals.
The most recent science suggests that these chemicals are much more hazardous to human health than scientists had initially thought and are probably more dangerous at levels thousands of times lower than previously believed. Exposure to the chemical may lead to reproductive problems, heart issues, breathing problems, cancer and problems with the immune system.
The EPA’s new proposal is to designate two of the most widely used PFAS: PFOA and PFOS; as hazardous substances under Superfund regulations. The EPA said it will publish the proposed rule in the federal register in the next several weeks. That would give the public 60 days to comment before the rule could be finalized.
If the proposal is finalized, releases of certain amounts of these chemicals would have to be reported to the government. The EPA believes this would encourage the companies to have better waste management practices at the facilities that handle the chemical.
The EPA said the rule could also make the polluter pay fines and cleanup costs.
Leave a Reply