EPA grants petition to conduct PFAS testing
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Dec. 28 it would grant a petition from six North Carolina public health and environmental justice organizations to compel companies to test certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties but break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time.
PFAS can be found in drinking water and food. Exposure can lead to adverse health outcomes.
“Communities in North Carolina and across the country deserve to know the potential risks that exposure to PFAS pose to families and children,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
“By taking action on this petition, EPA will have a better understanding of the risks from PFAS pollution so we can do more to protect people,” Regan said.
“This data will also help us identify the sources of pollution so we can hold those accountable for endangering the public. EPA is fully committed to addressing this longstanding pollution challenge, and today we take another critical step forward to protect the water, air, and land we all depend on.”
EPA acted on a petition submitted in October 2020 by the Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, Toxic Free NC, and the NC Black Alliance.
The coalition asked EPA to require health and environmental impact testing on 54 chemical substances that the petition identifies as PFAS manufactured by The Chemours Company in Fayetteville, N.C.
The Trump administration denied this petition in January 2021, and the petitioners requested that the agency reconsider its denial in March, which EPA agreed to do in September, in light of the change in administration and in policy priorities concerning PFAS.
In October, EPA announced a National PFAS Testing Strategy which identifies priority substances for the first of several described phases of an iterative testing approach based on grouping of chemicals by chemistry features and available toxicity data. These substances include many of the chemicals identified in the petition, but also additional PFAS which will inform a wider universe of categories of PFAS where key data is lacking.
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