The EPA announced a proposal to designate two PFAS, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, as well as PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. This would leave the costs of cleaning up the contamination to the polluters not the community, according to Union of Concerned Scientists.
Under the Superfund law, reporting requirements of releases of these chemicals would also go into effect.
“Administrator Regan made the right call by naming PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances—a long overdue but welcome action,” Genna Reed, director of policy analysis for the Center for Science and Democracy at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “For decades, too many people have shouldered not just the health costs of exposure to PFAS chemicals, but the financial burden associated with protecting their families and communities from these chemicals.”
PFAS, a class of toxic chemicals, is associated with a host of health impacts, including various cancers and reproductive and immune system problems, according to UCS.
“With this rule, EPA will require that the makers and users of these two PFAS pay to clean up their mess,” Reed said. “This step is important, but it covers just a fraction of the PFAS manufactured and used in this country. Federal inaction and active disinformation campaigns deployed by the chemical industry to undermine the science have meant that PFOA, PFOS and thousands of other chemicals in the PFAS class have entered our waterways, fields, air, homes and bodies.”
According to The Center for Science and Democracy, PFAS contamination was found in drinking water or groundwater at 131 military sites across the U.S. in which “all but one of them exceeded the ATSDR safety threshold of 11 parts per trillion” and “nearly two-thirds were more than 100 times higher than the safe level.”
This is the first time the EPA has taken a step to regulate “this common and dangerous class of pollutant after decades of scientific evidence,” UCS reported.
“[The] EPA must urgently follow up this rule with strong science-based and equitable actions to regulate PFAS as a class,” Reed said.