EPA’s PFAS Summit shows the need for, and effectiveness of, community action

The concerted outcry of community activists is finally getting through to EPA. Although PFAS have been on the national radar screen since early 2014, EPA is now committing to take two important steps to regulate this too-long unregulated group of chemicals

Define PFOA and PFOS, the two best know contaminants, as “hazardous substances” under the Federal Superfund law; this will give private parties whose property is contaminated with those PFAS a remedy to clean up their property

Establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water; the current Preliminary Health Advisory Level of 70 ppt lacks regulatory teeth.

The elephant in the room is the still suppressed ATSDR Toxicological Profile of PFAS. It was extremely disconcerting to hear Patrick Breysse, the agency director, suggest that the report is being held up pending the development of “consistent messaging” with the Pentagon. The Pentagon, as the polluter, should not be able to influence what the cleanup levels should be. Don’t let the fox guard the henhouse!

World class scientists at New Jersey’s DEP have already established a level of 13 ppt for PFOA. Leaked emails suggest that ATSDR’s proposed standard will be much closer to this level than EPA’s 70 ppt. See the article linked below.

In fact, the “screening level” already set for PFAS in fish consumed by fishermen is well below this same 70 ppt. See slide #54 at 1:03 on the linked video here.

The EPA regions are supposed to be having to follow up meetings with affected communities. The pollution from the Willow Grove and Warminster bases in Horsham, Warrington and Warminster Townships is as widespread and severe as anyplace in the U.S. EPA’s Region 3 needs to step up and have a meeting here ASAP. And the community needs to step up, attend, and let their voices be heard.

  • Demand immediate release of the ATSDR report
  • Demand that the MCL be protective of the life and health of the most vulnerable—pregnant women, developing fetuses, people with compromised immune systems.
  • Demand the prompt regulation of PFAS as hazardous substances.

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