Statement: EPA targets two toxic PFAS chemicals under Superfund law

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WASHINGTON – In a move that could help protect drinking water from toxic contamination, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Friday a proposal to target two new PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The designation would allow EPA to make polluters pay for the costs of clean up. 

PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals that are used in many consumer products to make them water resistant, durable, or slippery. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects including kidney and liver disease, immune system suppression, birth defects and even cancer.

PFOA and PFOS, two of the earliest types of PFAS, were originally used to make Teflon and Scotchgard coatings in the 1950s. Though production of PFOA and PFOS was voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers in the early 2000s, these chemicals persist in the environment. PFAS have contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans across the nation. And, the EPA has confirmed PFAS at 180 Superfund sites.

In response, experts from U.S. PIRG and Environment America released the following statements:

Emily Rogers, U.S. PIRG Zero Out Toxics advocate, said:

“Research has shown that PFOA and PFOS are harmful to human health. Polluting companies got away with releasing these toxic PFAS for decades, with the burden of negative health impacts like cancer and liver disease and the task of cleaning up these dangerous pollutants falling on the American people. Polluters must be held financially responsible for cleaning up their messes. This proposed rule will ensure EPA has the necessary tools under Superfund to make PFAS polluters pay for releasing untold amounts of toxic forever chemicals into the environment. This is just the start of a long road toward ensuring Americans are safe from all types of harmful PFAS and we look forward to working with EPA to get there.” 

Sean Hoffmann, Environment America Federal Legislative advocate, said: 

“Today, the EPA has proposed crucial action to ensure clean up of two notorious PFAS chemicals. The agency should also ensure that no other PFAS leach from contaminated sites into our drinking water sources. And to truly turn off the toxic tap, we hope EPA will move quickly to eliminate their direct discharge into our waterways, and follow the lead of several states in restricting the use of these dangerous forever chemicals.”  

The groups are also holding an online event on PFAS contamination with North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein at 1 PM ET this afternoon.

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