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Image: Nigel Wylie, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor
The EPA has announced that it will propose the first-ever limits on the discharge of polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, in wastewater. The class of chemicals, often called “forever chemicals,” can accumulate in the environment and the human body and contribute to health problems. However, public health and environmental activists say that these rules may be too little too late and that more must be done to protect communities already facing the consequences of rampant PFAS contamination.
Why This Matters: From drinking water to cosmetics to the top of Mount Everest, PFAS are now globally ubiquitous, and wreaking severe havoc on ecosystems and human health. These “forever chemicals” accumulate in the environment over generations and can cause cancer, high blood pressure, severe COVID-19 in humans, and infertility and death in animals.
The new plan released by the EPA on Wednesday would place limits on the amount of PFAS that can be discharged in wastewater from facilities where PFAS are used in manufacturing and from chromium electroplating facilities. “This plan illustrates one way that EPA is following science to better protect public health and the environment,” said Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator for Water. “Importantly and for the first time, EPA is committing to limit PFAS in wastewater discharges.”
But the Environmental Working Group says that the new plan won’t cover a vast majority of PFAS sources. “The Environmental Working Group has used EPA enforcement data to identify nearly 30,000 potential industrial dischargers, many of which would not be included in the forthcoming ELGs,” said the organization in a statement. They say that the new rule could cover as few as 14 facilities and fail to regulate wastewater PFAS from other sources like “paper mills, tanneries, textile manufacturers, plastics molders, and metal finishers.” The group also says that the time it will take to implement this rule is far too long.
In response to an earlier notice of public rulemaking, Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would require the EPA to develop effluent limitation guidelines for nine different industries within the next four years.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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