EPA relies on discredited lifetime health advisory of 70 ppt; federal scientists recommend 11 ppt

Alaska Community Action on Toxics joined more than 40 groups from communities across the country with toxic PFAS contamination in their drinking water and groundwater in a unified statement today criticizing EPA’s proposed cleanup goals as not protective of public health, especially for infants and young children.

“The Agency’s proposal is not protective of human health particularly infants, children and expectant mothers as it fails to incorporate critical risk factors including placental and breast milk transfer to baby nor the potential for transgenerational body burden as evidenced by the ever-growing, undeniable body of scientific research and health studies,” the joint letter to EPA emphasized.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made toxic chemicals used to make consumer products resistant to water, grease or stains. Research has shown probable links between PFAS exposure and cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

The EPA’s proposed Preliminary Remediation Goals will inform site-specific cleanup levels for two PFAS chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) in groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water.

“As communities impacted by PFAS contamination, we object to the EPA’s preliminary remedial goals for groundwater as a source of current or potential drinking water, and recommendations extrapolated from the discredited lifetime health advisory level of 70 ppt – all which assume no prior exposure,” impacted communities wrote.

According to EPA’s website, today marks the final opportunity for public comment on proposed interim recommendations for addressing PFAS contamination under a wide range of federal cleanup programs, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) and corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

“EPA’s institutional failure to protect public health is reflected in the much lower PFAS standards and advisories set by a growing number of states that recognize the much larger intake rates for infants and the observed biological activity of these chemicals even at very low exposure levels,” the groups emphasized. “Moreover, these failures have the unavoidable effect of targeting less resilient communities and those most vulnerable to harm.”

The joint statement was organized by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, a community-based organization from Wisconsin that has worked on military toxics issues for nearly 30 years.  Participating groups are from impacted communities in 14 states including Alaska, California, Delaware, Arizona, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia.