Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it wants PFOA and PFOS, compounds of PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals,” to be classified as hazardous substances. There are thousands of forever chemicals found in common household items and products today.
Under Superfund regulations, the EPA proposes to include PFAS as hazardous chemicals. PFAS are dangerous to the environment and has been linked to many health problems. Exposure to PFAS are connected to breathing problems, heart issues, cancer, immune system problems, and other adverse health conditions. If the EPA’s proposal is made official, then a minimal amount of chemical release of PFAS would need to be reported to the government. In 2016, federal PFAS guidelines were set at 70 parts per trillion. With the new proposal, the guidelines for reporting will be near zero.
PFAS are found in countless products, such as water-repellent sports gear, frying pans, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, food containers, and stain-resistance rugs. Both PFOS and PFOA are colorless and odorless and can only be detected by specialized testing procedures. PFAS are resistant to decomposition and remain in the environment for very long periods of time.
A study by the CDC estimates that PFAS can be detected in almost 98 percent of the U.S. population. PFOA and PFOS can be found in the air, drinking water, food products, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to the following health problems:
Although PFAS have been around for years and can be found in almost everything, very little is known about which PFAS are the most dangerous.
Over the past 10 years, many manufacturers voluntarily stopped using PFOS and PFOA chemicals in their products, with certain PFAS being phased out in 2016 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2020, food manufacturers and the FDA agreed to phase out PFAS from food packaging and products that came into contact with food. However, as the FDA monitored the PFAS releasing into the environment, it revealed that the dangerous chemicals still lingered. Further testing found that about 74 percent of imported products still contained old PFAS.
Experts agree that the EPA regulations are merely a small step in a long fight ahead. With the Superfund regulations, this could give manufacturers the ability to begin cleanup procedures of these chemicals. However, because these chemicals are so difficult to decompose, there is no absolute safe way to dispose of them. Either way, the EPA’s new proposal will help hold polluters responsible for contamination should the final ruling pass in 2023.
If you have an illness from hazardous substances, contact one of our Wilmington environmental lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. Call us at 302-656-5445 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. We are located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, and we proudly serve clients in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.