EPA announces proposal to label toxic 'forever chemicals' as 'hazardous substances'

EPA announces proposal to label toxic 'forever chemicals' as 'hazardous substances'
U.S. EPA photo by Jeanethe Falvey.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an announcement of its proposal to provide specific labels for certain types of "forever chemicals" as "hazardous substances."

According to CNN, these chemicals are commonly found in household products and have the potential to pollute the country's water systems.

"The EPA's new proposal is to designate two of the most widely used PFAS -- PFOA and PFOS -- as hazardous substances under Superfund regulations. The EPA said it will publish the proposed rule in the federal register in the next several weeks," the news outlet reported. "That would give the public 60 days to comment before the rule could be finalized."

READ MORE: 5 Popular Home Products That Can Be Surprisingly Toxic

The report focuses on chemicals described as "per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals" and what new scientific research suggests about them.

"The most recent science suggests that these chemicals are much more hazardous to human health than scientists had initially thought and are probably more dangerous at levels thousands of times lower than previously believed," the news outlet reported. "Exposure to the chemical may lead to reproductive problems, heart issues, breathing problems, cancer, and problems with the immune system."

EPA administrator Michael S. Regan also released a statement expressing concern about these types of chemicals as well as the purpose of the agency's proposal announcement.

"Communities have suffered far too long from exposure to these forever chemicals. The action announced today will improve transparency and advance EPA's aggressive efforts to confront this pollution, as outlined in the Agency's PFAS Strategic Roadmap," Regan said. "Under this proposed rule, EPA will both help protect communities from PFAS pollution and seek to hold polluters accountable for their action."

READ MORE: Are scientists discovering how to eliminate toxic 'forever chemicals' from the environment fast enough?

Tim Whitehouse, who serves as the executive director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, also insisted the EPA's latest directive is small effort part of a bigger effort bring an end to PFAS pollution.

"EPA actions are too little and too late," Whitehouse said. "This administration and previous administrations have been fiddling around trying not to upset chemical companies and communities suffer."

"A few communities may benefit from the proposed rule, but it doesn't solve the problem and the problem is that the EPA refuses to develop management standards for PFAS waste," Whitehouse said.

Due to the type of chemicals they are, there is no proper way to safely dispose of them. "We're just going to get more and more Superfund sites. So it's only a band-aid on a problem that's being created every day," Whitehouse said. "This is only fixing a problem that's already been created as opposed to stopping future problems."

READ MORE: 8 dangerous side effects of fracking the industry doesn't want you to know about

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