EPA wants to regulate toxic industrial compounds found in manufacturing
by Associated Press
The plan is intended to restrict PFAS from being released into the environment, accelerate cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites such as military bases and increase investments in research.
The Biden administration is launching a broad strategy to regulate toxic industrial compounds associated with serious health conditions that are used in products ranging from cookware to carpets and firefighting foams.
Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said it is taking a series of actions to limit pollution from a cluster of long-lasting chemicals known as PFAS that are increasingly turning up in public drinking water systems, private wells and even food.
The plan is intended to restrict PFAS from being released into the environment, accelerate cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites such as military bases and increase investments in research to learn more about where PFAS are found and how their spread can be prevented.
“This is a bold strategy that starts with immediate action” and includes additional steps “that will carry through this first term” of President Joe Biden, Regan said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We’re going to use every tool in our toolbox to restrict human exposure to these toxic chemicals.”
PFAS, called “forever chemicals” because they last so long in the environment, have been associated with serious health conditions, including cancer and reduced birth weight.
Under the strategy to be announced on Oct. 18, the EPA will move to set aggressive drinking water limits for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and will require PFAS manufacturers to report on how toxic their products are. The agency also is moving to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the so-called Superfund law that allows the EPA to force companies responsible for the contamination to pay for the cleanup work or do it themselves.
Officials expect a proposed rule on PFAS in drinking water by 2023, Regan said. “We’re going to move as quickly as possible to set these safe drinking water limits,” he said.
Action on PFAS will not be done “on the backs of the American people,” Regan added. “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.”