Study suppressed by Trump administration shows exposure to toxic nonstick chemicals should be 10 times lower than EPA estimates
A much lower safe level for toxic fluorinated, or PFAS, chemicals than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory level is being recommended by a government report. The report, released Wednesday, was suppressed by the EPA, Department of Defense, and White House for fear it would cause a “public relations nightmare,” according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental organization.
The report from scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Control, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, says that the “minimal risk level” for exposure to PFOA and PFOS, two PFAS chemicals, should be seven to 10 times lower than the level previously recommended by the EPA.
The chemicals are linked to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immunity, and other health problems.
“This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor at the EWG. “We urge EPA to collect and publish all water results showing PFAS contamination at any level, so Americans across the country can take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families.”
A recent EWG analysis of unreleased data suggests that tap water supplies for an estimated 110 million Americans are contaminated with PFAS chemicals.
In the absence of federal leadership by the Trump administration on the growing crisis of PFAS-contaminated drinking water, states such as New Jersey, Michigan, and others have been taking the lead on setting real health-protective standards, Naidenko said.
“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt should use this information and the agency’s considerable resources to protect the public, but trusting him with safeguarding people from pollution is like relying on a crooked accountant to handle your finances,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “It will largely fall to state and local governments to step in and take the necessary action to deliver results for the public.”