A new analysis released on May 6, 2019 reveals that there are at least 610 sites in 43 states contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals. The polluted sites consist of military bases, airports, and public water systems--including drinking water systems of approximately 19 million people.
Remind me why PFAS contamination is a big deal...
Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released health advisory levels in May 2017, PFAS contamination has regularly appeared in news headlines. Several states now have their own strict PFAS limits, and EPA has made further strides by releasing the PFAS Action Plan, which outlines the agency’s plan for maximum contaminant level (MCL) development, hazardous designation, and enforcement. There are several reasons why PFAS are garnering such widespread public attention and concern, including the chemicals’:
There are several reasons why PFAS are garnering such widespread public attention and concern, including the chemicals’:
- Potential for toxicity to human health and the environment at part-per-trillion concentrations
- Increased frequency of PFAS detections in public water supplies, surface water, food, human receptors, and wildlife throughout the United States and globally
- Wide uses in industries such as oil & gas, chemical production, manufacturing, consumer goods, metal-plating, and aerospace
- Treatment challenges due to PFAS persistence, mobility, and nearly ubiquitous presence
A bipartisan issue
PFAS is becoming a bipartisan topic, as lawmakers seek to treat this group of chemicals and enact protection measures. On May 8, 2019, two days after the PFAS contamination findings were published, U.S. senators reintroduced the PFAS Accountability Act, which would provide quicker PFAS relief to communities. This is one of more than 20 bills introduced in 2019 so far in hopes to pass policy to treat the chemicals and protect the environment from contamination.
On Wednesday, May 15, 2019 a House Energy and Commerce hearing will address “Legislative Proposals to Protect Americans at Risk of PFAS Contamination & Exposure.” Some of the potential bills that may be considered include a drinking water standard for MCLs, military cleanup, and designation of the chemicals as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
Ask us your PFAS questions!
Mitch Olson, Ph.D, P.E., PFAS Subject-Matter Expert
Andrew Pawlisz, Toxicologist & Risk Assessor