EPA Designates Two Common Chemicals as Hazardous

(IntegrityPress.org) – Two more chemicals found in hundreds of popular, everyday items have been designated “hazardous substances” by the Environmental Protection Agency as of Friday, April 19. PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, and PFOS, or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, are types of “forever chemical” and have been linked to health issues such as cancer and infertility.

“Forever chemicals” are PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl compounds, are known to take a very long time to degrade once they are inside the human body or elsewhere in the environment. They have been found in drinking water, in soil, and are reported to be in 98% of people’s bloodstream. PFAS are widely used to provide waterproofing to various products, including non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, cellphones, carpets, and even firefighting foam. PFAS particles are tiny, which allows them to pass into the human body via skin pores, and so pass into the bloodstream, ending up in the organs.

PFOA and PFOS have now been added to the list of hazardous substances under the Superfund law, which does not ban them from use, rather it requires that manufacturers report any leakages of the chemicals into soil or water, but only if they exceed certain levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may then demand the business responsible pays costs towards any environmental clean-up operation, which could cost tens of millions of dollars.

Despite not being subject to an outright ban, U.S. manufacturers have in fact phased out their use on a voluntary basis, although due to the nature of “forever chemicals”, they remain present in various goods and parts of the environment. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that the new ruling will allow his organization to tackle the worst areas of contamination more quickly and efficiently, while shifting the financial burden to those responsible for the release of such chemicals. He also said that the Biden administration understands the threat to American health that “forever chemicals” pose.

The latest designation comes hot on the heels of an earlier April ruling that dictates lower PFAS levels in drinking water. These new regulations should “prevent thousands of deaths”, according to the EPA.

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