EPA takes important steps to curb 'forever chemicals' discharges into water

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-05-10 09:21:27 – USA

The Environmental Working Group applauded Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) for spearheading new legislative measures to limit discharges of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS into drinking water systems.

The legislators stated that they will propose an amended version of their PFAS Clean Water Standards Act. The revised version would accelerate and make mandatory the EPA's non-binding timelines in its "PFAS Strategic Roadmap" for setting criteria polluters must satisfy before discharging PFAS waste into surface water or sending PFAS wastewater to treatment facilities.

Chemical makers, electroplaters, metal finishers, textile mills, electronics manufacturers, landfills, leather tanners, plastics molders, and paint formulators are among the industrial sources of PFAS contamination that would be addressed by the law.

EWG Legislative Attorney, Melanie Benesh, said that turning off the tap on PFAS industrial polluters is one of the most effective moves the EPA can take.

PFAS are a class of fluorinated compounds that have been related to cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage, and other major health issues.

PFAS damage the drinking water of an estimated 200 million people, but most polluters continue to discharge chemicals into the water without regard for the restrictions stipulated in their licenses. According to EWG, almost 30,000 establishments may be emitting PFAS.

The Clean Water Guidelines for PFAS Act would compel the EPA to create standards for nine industrial categories as soon as possible, as well as monitor at least two others. The government has only promised to propose limitations for chemical makers by the summer of 2023, and for electroplaters and metal finishers by the summer of 2024. The EPA has not established any final action deadlines.

Benesh added that the EPA has to move faster to set limits for all industrial sectors that contribute to the PFAS contamination problem.

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