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New Report Finds Harmful PFAS Chemicals in Drinking Water Throughout California

By PFAS in the news

SAN FRANCISCO – A new report out today finds that drinking water throughout California is contaminated with harmful PFAS chemicals, particularly in already heavily polluted communities. The report is titled “Dirty Water: Toxic ‘Forever’ PFAS Chemical Are Prevalent in the Drinking Water of Environmental Justice Communities.”  

Of particular concern is the finding that PFAS pollution is prominent in communities that are overburdened by multiple sources of pollution and by other factors that make them more sensitive to pollution, compounding the impacts to residents’ health and safety.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), along with Community Water Center, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles, and Clean Water Action published the report, using the State’s data sources. Read more…

Air Force Refusing To Pay For PFAS Contamination Of Mashpee Wells

By PFAS in the news

The US Air Force is refusing to reimburse Mashpee Water District taxpayers for treatment of two wells with levels of contamination from Joint Base Cape Cod that exceed Massachusetts drinking water standards.

The water district sent a demand letter to the Air Force in May after voters approved an estimated $8.5 million filtration system to remove PFAS contaminants from drinking water supplies on Turner Road.

PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because they never fully degrade, are a class of manmade chemicals that have been linked to low infant birth weights, suppression of the immune system and cancer.

The use of firefighting foams at Joint Base Cape Cod more than two decades ago is the known source of several plumes of PFAS contamination that have infiltrated numerous wells on the Upper Cape, including the two Turner Road wells. Read more…

FDA raises alarm over PFAS-tainted food containers

By PFAS in the news

The same types of plastic containers EPA blamed for pesticides contaminated with PFAS may also be used to store food, raising alarm bells at the Food and Drug Administration.

At issue are fluorinated containers made of high-density polyethylene, a material widely used in food packaging because it can easily seal out moisture and other temperature changes. The packaging is generally used during the manufacturing process to hold large quantities of ingredients like oils or flavorings.

This spring, EPA determined that such containers were responsible for contaminating pesticides with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals” and linked to thyroid disease and cancer even at very low levels.

Now, FDA is warning the food industry that unlawful fluorination processes for similar containers could be contaminating food with PFAS, too. Read more…

PFAS: fears over lax US standards prompts bill on beauty products’ safety

By PFAS in the news

Earlier this summer, a new study found that more than half of 231 cosmetic products tested in the US and Canada contained PFAS, a group of fluorinated chemicals that can weaken immunity, disrupt child development, affect the reproductive system and increase the chance of certain cancers. Whereas Europe has kept a tighter rein on what chemicals can and cannot be included in everyday products, the US’s standards are now over 80 years old.

Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) have reintroduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a piece of legislation that would require companies to disclose all the ingredients used in their products, be able to demonstrate their safety and register their entities with the FDA.

The bill was first introduced in 2015 but failed to pass. This year, with renewed interest in consumer safety and greater awareness about PFAS, Feinstein and Collins are making the case again with the support of industry giants like Unilever, Procter and Gamble, the Estée Lauder Group, Revlon, Beautycounter and Johnson and Johnson backing the legislation. Read more…

PFAS Testing of Wells in Truro and Wellfleet Set to Begin

By PFAS in the news, PFAS-REACH team news

Testing for the presence of PFAS — compounds linked to a broad array of harmful health effects — is set to begin in Wellfleet and Truro. The testing is part of a program being offered by the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Massachusetts began to regulate PFAS only last fall.

The DEP program focuses on 84 communities where more than 60 percent of residents are served by private wells. That’s because PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been found to seep into soils, groundwater, and surface water.

Known as “forever chemicals” because they never completely degrade, these compounds are manmade and date back to the 1950s. They are present in some of the foams firefighters use to put out flammable liquid fires, in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and many other everyday items. Read more…

Portsmouth’s Haven well to supply water again, 7 years after PFAS contamination found

By PFAS in the news

PORTSMOUTH – City officials have announced plans to bring the Haven well back online this week, seven years after it was shut down because of the presence of toxic PFAS chemicals in the water.

The city received permission from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services “for the reactivation of the Haven well,” after the upgraded Pease Water Treatment Facility – which was designed to remove PFAS from city water sources – became fully operational earlier this year.

DES said “laboratory results provided as part of the request (to bring the Haven well online) demonstrates the finished water quality while treating the Haven well is in compliance with current standards, including non-detect levels of PFAS.” Read more…

Preliminary Data for 2020 TRI Reporting Includes First-Ever Reporting on PFAS

By PFAS in the news

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on July 29, 2021, the availability of the preliminary Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data on chemical releases, chemical waste management, and pollution prevention activities that took place during 2020 at almost 21,000 federal and industrial facilities in the United States. EPA notes that the preliminary data include the first-ever reporting on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) added to the TRI by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The dataset is raw data and does not contain any summary or trend analysis. EPA plans to publish the updated TRI dataset in Fall 2021, and EPA will use it to develop the 2020 TRI National Analysis. EPA expects to publish the 2020 TRI National Analysis in early 2022. According to EPA, the public can use the preliminary data to identify facilities that report to TRI (for example, to locate facilities in a given ZIP code) and learn which chemicals facilities manage and in what quantities. Read more…

Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Suspected at Oil Sites Across California

By PFAS in the news

At least 162 oil refineries and other petroleum-holding facilities in California have likely stored or used materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of synthetic chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment and are linked to severe illnesses, according to state water regulators.

The California State Water Resources Control Board sent a letter to facility operators in March ordering them to submit work plans evaluating the presence of the toxic compounds at their facilities, including areas where PFAS are stored or disposed of and the potential ways the chemicals could have contaminated soil, surface water, storm water and groundwater as part of a multiyear phased investigation into PFAS contamination of drinking water.

Capital & Main obtained a response from the Western States Petroleum Association, which represents some of the largest oil companies in the world, asking for a 90-day extension, which it argued was necessary because of limited company resources and difficulties presented by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The water board granted the extension, as it did similar requests from water treatment facilities and metal finishing facilities. Read more…

EPA must protect public health by regulating PFAS as a class

By PFAS in the news

A high-stakes debate is raging over a broad class of toxic chemicals that contaminate drinking water consumed by tens of millions of people. These chemicals — called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS) — can be found in the blood of nearly all Americans.

PFAS are ubiquitous and persistent. They are found in non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, fast-food containers, firefighting foams and numerous industrial applications. And PFAS chemicals pose significant risks to people’s immune, reproductive and hormonal systems, affect liver enzymes, raise cholesterol levels and increase risks of kidney and testicular cancer, among other health effects.

Today, there is rising alarm across the U.S. as cleanup costs skyrocket and more people in exposed communities worry about long-term threats to their health. Piecemeal efforts to manage PFAS are failing to address the growing crisis. Bolder solutions are called for, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the frontlines. Its new leadership is promising far-reaching action. What should the EPA do? Read more…

High concentrations of ‘forever’ chemicals being released from ice melt into the Arctic Ocean

By PFAS in the news

Known as ‘forever’ chemicals due to the fact they do not break down in the environment, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in a wide range of products and processes from fire proofing to stain resistant surfaces.

The Lancaster University study has found them in the surface seawater close to melting Arctic ice floes at concentrations of up to two times higher than levels observed in the North Sea, even though the region of the Barents Sea under investigation was thousands of kilometers from populated parts of Europe.

The research has shown these chemicals have traveled not by sea, but through the atmosphere, where they accumulate in Arctic sea ice. Because Arctic ice is melting more quickly than before, these harmful chemicals are efficiently released into surrounding seawater resulting in some very high concentrations. Read more…