Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageThe toxic 'forever chemicals' lurking in our drinking water

By Karen Graham     Aug 14, 2018 in Health
At “community engagement sessions” around the country this summer, citizens are demanding the EPA act quickly and decisively to clean up local water systems that have tested positive for deadly chemicals called PFAs.
The toxic chemicals in question are perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. PFAs are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s.
PFAs are referred to as "forever chemicals" because they are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There are over 3,500 different types of PFAs, and they have been dumped into our water, soil, and air.
The EPA began testing for PFAs from 2013 to 2015 and found "significant" amounts of PFAs in the public water supplies in 33 states. At that time, PFAs were moved up the list of the EPA's national priorities, according to the Associated Press.
Chemicals and toxins including arsenic have been found in the village's drinking water
Chemicals and toxins including arsenic have been found in the village's drinking water
ARIF ALI, AFP
Even more important to the urgency that is now being seen, quite a number of health studies detailed the health risks. Several studies on PFAS once used in making Teflon found a probable link with kidney and testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, hypertension in pregnant women and high cholesterol. Other recent studies point to immune problems in children, among other things.
EPA sets advisory limits
In 2016, the EPA set advisory limits for two kinds of PFAS that had recently been phased out of production in the United States. (Keep in mind now that over 3,500 different types of PFAs are out there, and newer versions are being produced today). However, the 2016 advisory limit was never enforced.
Then, earlier this year, environmental toxicologists decided the EPA's 2016 advisory limits for the two already phased out PFAs were several times too high for safety. Now, the EPA is saying it will prepare a national management plan for the compounds by the end of the year, but don't bet on it.
Teflon cookware is one of the products that contained PFAs
Teflon cookware is one of the products that contained PFAs
Andrevan
Peter Grevatt, director of the agency’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, told The Associated Press that there’s no deadline for a decision on possible regulatory actions, citing the need for more data to be gathered and further studies. If this answer sounds like something we can expect from the Trump administration's EPA, it is probably true.
And while President Trump has been touting the need for clean air and water as part of his plan to make America great again, his administration has seen fit to cede more regulatory control to the individual states while removing or putting on hold regulations that are seen as unfair to businesses.
The EPA does concede that while two PFAs that were phased out in the U.S., they know very little about managing the risks from the newer PFAs and another category of the chemicals called GenX.
A vast variety of everyday products containPFAs.
A vast variety of everyday products containPFAs.
CDC
We have some angry Americans
A "community engagement session" was held in Horsham, near the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, in eastern Pennsylvania, Tim Hagey, the manager of a local water utility attended.
Hagey recalls how he used to assure people that the local public water was safe. That was before testing showed it had some of the highest levels of the toxic compounds of any public water system in the U.S. "You all made me out to be a liar," Hagey told Environmental Protection Agency officials last month.
One of many questions being asked is why the EPA hasn't already done something about the toxic chemical. “It absolutely disgusts me that the federal government would put PR concerns ahead of public health concerns,” Republican state Rep. Todd Stephens declared.
Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been harmed by tap water contaminated with the toxic industrial compounds. Woeher questioned why it took so long to tell the public about the dangers of the compounds. “They knew they had seeped into the water, and they didn’t tell anybody about it until it was revealed and they had to,” she said.
More about Toxic chemicals, Drinking water, perfluoroalkyl, polyfluoroalkyl, Epa
 
Latest News
Top News