EPA outlines plan for dealing with toxic chemicals in water

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 15, 2019

Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group said that without firm action and deadlines, he expected the EPA announcement to be no more than a "plan to plan".

The EPA has faced criticism from lawmakers in both major political parties as an increasing number of states have discovered perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS, in public water systems and private wells.

Environmentalists have criticized the agency, saying it had not acted fast enough. The synthetic chemicals are found in firefighting foam, nonstick pots and pans, water-repellent clothing and many other household and personal items. Though in-depth studies by the federal government are still needed, the chemicals have been linked to health issues including cancer, high cholesterol, and reproductive problems.

Wheeler described his agency's approach as "the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA". The agency will propose adding PFAS chemicals to a drinking water monitoring program and develop new methods for detecting them in water, soil and groundwater. Tom Carper of DE, said the agency's plan takes only timid steps toward fulfilling pledges made by former EPA head Scott Pruitt, who in May 2018 described PFAS pollution as "a national priority". Meanwhile, the EPA said a rule setting maximum limits should be ready by the end of the year.

Capito was one of 20 senators writing Wheeler this month to demand mandatory limits on two phased-out versions of PFAS.

Thousands of distinct PFAS chemicals, which resist heat and repel grease, water and oil, have been in production since the 1940s.

"We know where the chemicals were manufactured, and we know a lot of the areas where they were actually used, so we're going into those communities to see whether or not the water in those communities are contaminated, he said".

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who has been nominated to lead the agency, told reporters while unveiling the plan that he believes the agency's 70 part per trillion health advisory level is "a safe level for drinking water".

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