The Environmental Protection Agency launched a regulatory strategy on Monday to restrict the amount of toxic "forever chemicals" making their way into the country's drinking water systems.
EPA will aggressively target PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, common in firefighting foams and household products such as nonstick pans that pose significant health risks if ingested.
The agency's "strategic roadmap," which pitches itself as the its "plan to deliver tangible public health benefits to all people who are
impacted by these chemicals — regardless of their zip code or the color of their skin," details a plan for regulatory action that would set limits for the level of PFAS in drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA wants to issue a proposed regulation next fall and is shooting for a final regulation in Fall 2023.
The plan proposes an expansion to the SDWA's nationwide drinking water monitoring program to get a better handle on the extent of PFAS contamination and the establishment of new reporting requirements on manufacturers to disclose the level of PFAS in their products.
The EPA also seeks to categorize PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to hold companies financially responsible for contamination stemming from their products and processes, and is planning to collect fish tissue for the first national PFAS assessment in fish as part of the National Lakes Assessment, which will be published next year.
“This is a bold strategy that starts with immediate action,” said EPA administrator Michael Regan. “We’re going to use every tool in our toolbox to restrict human exposure to these toxic chemicals.″
“We are holding the polluters accountable, and we’re using the full extent of our statutory authority to be sure that they pay for what they’ve done,″ Regan also said.
EPA's roadmap is the product of the EPA Council on PFAS, which Regan established in April, and picks up where the Trump administration's EPA left off, having issued a final determination on Jan. 19 that it would move to regulate PFAS.
Beyond EPA's actions, several other agencies are supporting the administration's efforts to mitigate PFAS pollution, including the Defense Department. The White House said in its own announcement Monday that the Pentagon is "moving swiftly" to address PFAS pollution at bases and other sites, where it is particularly high.
Additionally, researchers with the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service are examining and working on solutions to address PFAS's presence in the food system.
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman