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CJ reports: EPA plan addressing chemical pollutants gives few details on dealing with health risks

Carolina Journal‘s Dan Way reports:

GenX is of particular concern in North Carolina. Chemours’ Fayetteville Works Plant has polluted the drinking water of 200,000 people with GenX and other industrial chemicals, and has been the subject of state and federal lawsuits.

GenX is part of an enormous family of what are known as PFAS synthetic chemicals, nearly all of which are unregulated. Little is known about the risks they present.

Some studies have concluded they may pose the same health risks as the dangerous chemicals that preceded them, resulting in large legal settlements when people exposed to the chemicals get sick. The older chemicals were found to produce thyroid disorders; reproductive, developmental, and hormonal problems; high cholesterol; a depressed immune system; and cancer.

Sometimes called emerging chemicals, PFAS compounds exist in hundreds of consumer and industrial products. They are in nonstick Teflon cookware, slippery food wrapper coatings, dental floss, cosmetics, and stain-resistant materials. They are in firefighting foam, and have been detected in large volumes at airports and military installations.

The EPA says most Americans have been exposed to PFAS materials because of their widespread application and use since the 1940s.

The EPA’s action plan is designed to create scientific tests and technologies to fill the knowledge gap created when the quickly emerging chemicals entered the market without research from regulatory bodies. Among the plan’s provisions is enacting Significant New Use Rules requiring EPA notification before chemicals are used in new ways that may create human health and ecological concerns.

Gov. Roy Cooper wasn’t impressed with the EPA’s plan.

“I am disappointed that the agency’s action plan does not commit to setting standards, lacks detail on what research is planned on specific compounds like GenX, and seems to ignore the urgency of the problem,” Cooper said in a statement. “Today’s announcement contradicts promises made in public meetings in North Carolina last summer to work swiftly to set standards and recommendations for these compounds. People deserve to have confidence in the water they drink, and this weak action by the EPA negatively impacts state efforts to protect water quality and public health.”

More information here. 

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