The Guardian was given a list (acquired through a Freedom of Information Act) of more than 120,000 sites across the US where the EPA found people are being exposed to toxic “forever chemicals,” a.k.a. polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The list is 4 times larger than previously reported. EPA to address it tomorrow.
Revealed: More Than 120,000 US Sites Feared To Handle Harmful PFAS ‘Forever’ Chemicals, The Guardian, 17 October 2021
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified more than 120,000 locations around the US where people may be exposed to a class of toxic “forever chemicals” associated with various cancers and other health problems that is a frightening tally four times larger than previously reported, according to data obtained by the Guardian.
The list of facilities makes it clear that virtually no part of America appears free from the potential risk of air and water contamination with the chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The tally far exceeds a previous analysis that showed 29,900 industrial sites known or suspected of making or using the toxic chemicals.
People living near such facilities “are certain to be exposed, some at very high levels” to PFAS chemicals, said David Brown, a public health toxicologist and former director of environmental epidemiology at the Connecticut department of health.
Brown said he suspects there are far more sites than even those on the EPA list, posing long-term health risks for unsuspecting people who live near them.
“Once it’s in the environment it almost never breaks down,” Brown said of PFAS. “This is such a potent compound in terms of its toxicity and it tends to bioaccumulate … This is one of the compounds that persists forever.”
In July, a report by Physicians for Social Responsibility presented evidence that oil and gas companies have been using PFAS, or substances that can degrade into PFAS, in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), a technique used to extract natural gas or oil.
PFAS chemicals are a group of more than 5,000 man-made compounds used by a variety of industries since the 1940s for such things as electronics manufacturing, oil recovery, paints, fire-fighting foams, cleaning products and non-stick cookware. People can be exposed through contaminated drinking water, food and air, as well as contact with commercial products made with PFAS.
The EPA acknowledges there is “evidence that exposure to PFAS can cause adverse health outcomes in humans”.
EPA officials have started taking steps to get a grasp on the extent of PFAS use and existing and potential environmental contamination, as independent researchers say their own studies are finding reason for alarm. Last year, for instance, scientists at the non-profit Environmental Working Group issued a report finding that more than 200 million Americans could have PFAS in their drinking water at worrisome levels.
The EPA is expected to announce a broad new “action plan” addressing PFAS issues on Monday.
How is it possible that the contamination became so widespread and at such hazardous concentrations in such a short period of time? Especially when we have an agency tasked SPECIFICALLY for protecting our environment against just this kind of assault (Environmental Protection Agency)?
Could it be that the EPA itself is “ignoring or covering up the risks of certain dangerous chemicals” that four whistleblowers contend? (EPA is falsifying risk assessments for dangerous chemicals, say whistleblowers)
I’m glad the EPA is finally on it.