The EPA issues new health-related limits for safe PFAS levels | Surroundings – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Concentrations of “forever chemicals” in drinking water much lower than previously thought may have adverse health effects, the Environmental Protection Agency warned in a new advisory issued Wednesday.

The EPA announced the recommendation — which dramatically lowers the agency’s recommendations for safe drinking water levels — a day after another federal agency said residents in the Security Widefield area in El Paso County near Peterson Space Base had elevated levels of her blood exhibited “forever chemicals”, compared to the national average.

The EPA said its 2016 recommendation for a safe maximum lifetime for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) of 70 parts per trillion was insufficient “given newly available scientific evidence and consistent with the EPA’s responsibility to protect public health.”

Studies suggest that high levels of PFAS — ubiquitous chemicals used in industry and found in non-stick cookware, stainproof fabrics, carpets and cosmetics — lead to elevated cholesterol levels, a decrease in infant birth weight and a higher Risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, as well as increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer.


“People on the front lines of PFAS contamination have suffered for far too long,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Therefore, as part of a whole-of-government approach, the EPA is taking aggressive action to prevent these chemicals from entering the environment and to protect affected families from this ever-present challenge.”

The new lifetime health recommendations are 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and 0.02 ppt for PFOS, the two most prevalent types of PFAS.

An EPA fact sheet described the new health recommendation levels as “below the levels at which analytical methods can measure PFOA and PFOS.”

In Colorado, the Fountain Widefield Security area is one of the state’s largest PFAS contamination sites, as firefighting foam containing PFAS has been in use at Peterson Air Force (now Space Force) Base for a long period since the 1970’s. More than 80,000 people are affected.

Air Force water and soil testing in 2016 found PFAS levels of 240,000 parts per trillion in soil samples and more than 88,000 parts per trillion in groundwater at seven locations on the base. The base is now a designated EPA Superfund site.

Other PFAS contamination sites include Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora and the Suncor Refinery in Commerce City.


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Production of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals ended in the early 2000s, but tens of thousands of gallons are still stockpiled at fire departments nationwide and can still be used because the federal government has not issued regulations banning its use.

In February, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court against 15 manufacturers and distributors of firefighting foam, ordering the companies to pay the costs of investigation, reporting, monitoring and cleanup, as well as damages and restitution.

Weiser said while production has been halted, retailers continue to sell the foam despite knowing it poses health risks associated with its use.

As of 2019, the Air Force has spent more than $357 million cleaning up contamination at 22 Air Force facilities nationwide, including more than $50 million to clean up Peterson AFB.

The Colorado Legislature established a PFAS cash fund in 2018 that provides funding for sampling, emergency relief, and infrastructure.

The law provides for a fee of $25 per truckload of fuel products manufactured in, shipped to, or shipped within Colorado.

In 2022, lawmakers capped the PFAS cash fund at $8 million. The law also prohibits the use of PFAS chemicals in many product categories, including carpet, cookware, cosmetics, and furniture, and gives the Colorado Department of Health and Environmental Protection the authority to ban products intentionally containing PFAS chemicals for use in manufacturing, sale, or prohibitions to mark distribution. The law will come into force in 2024.


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Under the new law, Class B firefighting foams for use in storage and distribution facilities for gasoline, specialty fuel or jet fuel – a major source of PFAS contamination – will be tightly regulated to prevent the foam from being released by 2024.

The EPA’s lifetime health advice identifies contamination levels that the EPA believes will protect “all people, including vulnerable populations and life stages” from adverse health effects from lifetime exposure, including from other sources such as food, air and consumer products.

“Forever chemicals” like PFAS are not readily broken down and can accumulate in human and animal tissues, as well as plants, over time. In humans, PFOA has a half-life of 3.8 years (1,387 days), according to the EPA.

The EPA also said that epidemiological studies of exposure to PFOA and adverse health outcomes in humans are currently inconclusive, and a link to health problems has not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research into the health effects of PFAS on humans is ongoing.

The EPA also announced $1 billion in grants from the federal Emerging Pollutants Grants Program in Small or Underprivileged Communities. This is the first of $5 billion that can be used to reduce PFAS in drinking water in communities facing disproportionate impacts nationwide.

EPA health advice is not enforceable and not required by government. Instead, they provide drinking water system operators—and federal, state, tribal, and local officials—with technical information on the health effects, analysis methods, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination.

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