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WASHINGTON - As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers water pollution limits for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), several groups urged the agency to bar discharges of these “forever chemicals” into our waterways. U.S. PIRG, Environment America and Environmental Action submitted 29,656 comments from their individual members and joined legal comments to the EPA prepared by the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“It’s time to stop the PFAS-poisoning of our water,” said Environment America Clean Water Program Director John Rumpler. “We urge the EPA to use every tool at its disposal to halt this health threat -- beginning with an end to dumping these chemicals into our rivers, lakes, and streams.”
PFAS -- used widely in a variety of products including nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing and firefighting foam -- present significant threats to our health. These chemicals have been linked to multiple types of cancer, lower fertility rates, autoimmune diseases and a laundry list of other health problems. Moreover, the health impacts of PFAS are magnified because they accumulate in the food chain and persist for a long time in the environment.
Several studies have documented drinking water’s widespread PFAS contamination. As many as 200 million Americans are likely to have these “forever chemicals” in their drinking water, according to a recent analysis.
“As Administrator Regan knows firsthand, we had a PFAS dumping disaster in the Cape Fear River,” said Drew Ball, director of Environment North Carolina. “We hope the EPA will act now to prevent similar pollution elsewhere.”
With available technology able to capture 99 percent of PFAS in wastewater, the groups contend that the Clean Water Act requires a near-complete elimination of PFAS discharges.
“Somehow, we bought into a devil’s bargain -- the convenience of non-stick pans, stain-free jackets or grease-free food wrappers in exchange for cancer and disease,” said Danielle Melgar, Zero Out Toxics advocate at U.S. PIRG. “EPA should not only bar direct dumping of these forever chemicals but also require companies to phase out their use in favor of safer alternatives.”
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