There is a storm brewing in the world of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) regulation. As more hydrophobic and rustproofing chemicals enter the market every day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency struggles to regulate them all properly. These fluorinated compounds are now said to exist in the bloodstreams of over 97% of Americans. And concentrations are growing.
One of their senior scientists, David Andrews, had this to say:
"With over a thousand PFAS chemicals approved for use in the United States, a chemical by chemical approach to setting drinking water limits would likely take many lifetimes."
These "forever chemicals" never fully break down or degrade, either in the water cycle or in the human body. They can cause a number of severe health issues including early birthing, low birth weights, immuno-deficiencies, cancers, heart disease, liver dysfunction, and more.
Currently less than a dozen PFAS compounds are banned or limited by the EPA. They estimate that there should be hundreds if not thousands of compounds on that list. The main factors that prevent a comprehensive list are time and manpower.
Public health advocates across America are calling for dumping restrictions, drinking water limits, and class-wide bans on PFAS. They say that a piecemeal approach isn't working, since companies can just replace regulated compounds with slightly modified non-regulated ones as soon as a ban is enacted.
Elsewhere in the world, The EU has started to take action. They revised their drinking water directive, reducing acceptable levels to 100ng/l for twenty specific types of PFAS, and 500 ng/l for all PFAS compounds. Member states have until January 1, 2023 to fully adopt these new policies.
Since the U.S. EPA has given no timelines on their FPAS study and no deadlines as to the enforcement of any policy that emerges, industry professionals and public health advocates remain uncertain of the future.
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