The EPA Proposes Categorizing PFAS as Hazardous Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a significant step in addressing the dangers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals.” The agency signed a proposal that would categorize nine PFAS as hazardous to human health under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This move comes after various studies have shown the detrimental effects of these chemicals on both humans and animals.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that are widely used in manufacturing processes, including nonstick cookware, adhesives, firefighting foam, and turf. These chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly and can accumulate in the environment, as well as in the bodies of living organisms. A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found that nearly half of the country’s tap water supply is contaminated with PFAS.

The proposed rule by the EPA would classify these nine PFAS as “hazardous constituents” based on their toxic properties and potential to cause cancer, genetic mutations, and embryo malformations. The full list of the substances can be found on the EPA’s website. The agency cited several toxic effects associated with PFAS exposure, including an increased risk of cancer, decreased response to vaccinations, high cholesterol, fertility issues in women, preeclampsia, thyroid disorders, and asthma.

This proposal is a significant step towards regulating and addressing the dangers posed by PFAS. By categorizing these chemicals as hazardous, the EPA can implement stricter regulations and guidelines to protect human health and the environment. It also opens the door for potential legal actions against manufacturers and companies responsible for contaminating water supplies with PFAS.

In June, chemical manufacturer 3M agreed to pay approximately $10 billion in lawsuit settlements to help detoxify water supplies across the country. Plaintiffs claimed that the company’s firefighting foam and other products were responsible for contaminating tap water with PFAS. This settlement highlights the growing recognition of the harmful effects of PFAS and the need for accountability.

The proposed rule by the EPA will be open for public comment once it is uploaded to the Federal Register. This allows individuals and organizations to provide feedback and input regarding the categorization of PFAS as hazardous chemicals. Public engagement is crucial in shaping regulations and ensuring that the EPA’s actions align with the interests and concerns of the public.

The EPA’s proposal to categorize PFAS as hazardous chemicals is a significant step towards addressing the dangers posed by these “forever chemicals.” By acknowledging the toxic effects of PFAS and implementing stricter regulations, the agency aims to protect human health and the environment from further harm. Public participation and engagement will play a crucial role in shaping the final rule and holding responsible parties accountable for their actions.