UPDATE: “Public Relations Nightmare” as Dangerous Drinking Water Contamination Worse than Thought
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by Causes | 5.23.18
UPDATE – June 25, 2018: Last week, the Centers for Disease Control quietly published a long-awaited study on drinking water contamination with a class of toxic chemicals.
The report provides the most comprehensive information yet on the effects of these chemicals, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously understood.
ProPublica reports that the study upends federal standards for safe human exposure, recommending a limit for one of the compounds that is 10 times lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe threshold, and seven times lower for another compound.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, at least 126 drinking water systems on or near military bases are contaminated.
According to the report, “Recommended methods for the disposal of perfluoroalkyl compounds have not been located,” and new methods should be developed that do not release the compounds into the environment.
Read Countable’s original story below to see how Trump administration officials may have delayed the report’s publication to forestall a “public relations nightmare.”
- The EPA has wrapped up a summit on toxic chemicals in drinking water, but some groups say it’s not doing enough to protect people.
- At issue is a class of widely used commercial chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short.
Why It Matters
- Long-term exposure to PFAS—which have been used for decades in nonstick pans, water-repellent clothing, and firefighting foam—is linked to increased risks of kidney cancer, thyroid problems, high cholesterol, and hormone disruption, among other things.
- Recently released emails show that White House and EPA officials sought to stall the publication of a PFAS assessment by HHS that would have been a “public relations nightmare.” The report remains unpublished.
- One day after those emails were sent, EPA staff had a meeting with chemical industry representatives to discuss PFAS, which has led to scrutiny from lawmakers in both parties.
- A new analysis by an environmental group suggests that PFAS contamination of drinking water may be almost seven times higher than the EPA has reported.
- At the EPA’s PFAS summit, Administrator Scott Pruitt called the issue a “national priority,” and announced an action plan for PFAS contamination.
- The EPA had initially barred reporters from the summit, only to subsequently reverse course after a media outcry.
What Do You Think?
Is the EPA doing enough to address PFAS contamination of drinking water? Hit Take Action, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
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