Jan 29, 2019

EPA Will Not Limit Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water

Two toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been found at unsafe levels in at least 16 million Americans’ tap water

Two toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been found at unsafe levels in at least 16 million Americans’ tap water
Two toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been found at unsafe levels in at least 16 million Americans’ tap water.

The Trump administration will not set a drinking water limit for two toxic chemicals that are contaminating millions of Americans' tap water, according to Politico.

The chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been used for decades in products such as Teflon-coated cookware and military firefighting foam. According to Politico, they are present in the bloodstreams of an estimated 98% of Americans. EPA-mandated testing has found the chemicals at unsafe levels in at least 16 million Americans' tap water. This report comes less than a year after the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency faced criticism for delaying publication of a health study on the chemicals.

This decision from the EPA means the chemicals will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to Politico. This means utilities will face no federal requirements for testing for and removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies. However, several state have pursued or are pursuing their own limits.

According to Politico, chemical companies like 3M as well as the Defense Department could face billions of dollars in liability from efforts to regulate and clean up the chemical, which has contaminated groundwater near hundreds of military bases and chemical plants. According to Politico, the draft chemical plan includes a decision to list the two chemicals as hazardous under the Superfund law.

The agency will not discuss the plan’s content until it is made public.

“The action plan is currently undergoing interagency review,” said John Konkus, EPA spokesperson, in an email to Politico.

During his confirmation hearing, acting administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the plan had initially been scheduled for release in late January. However, he refused to promise that it would set a drinking water standard for the chemical.

"I cannot make that commitment," Wheeler told Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware.

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