EPA to Require Reporting on Waste Management of Four PFAS Chemicals
To better protect people and the environment from the risks of PFAS – chemicals found in most Americans’ drinking water – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require reporting on waste management tactics regarding the dangerous chemicals.
The news comes following last November’s EPA discovery that PFAS chemicals Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are far more toxic than initially thought, with the EPA declaring that safe exposure levels are “thousands of times lower” than previously believed. PFAS are likely carcinogenic to humans, and are known as “forever chemicals” as they do not leave the bloodstream once ingested.
PFOA and PFOS can be found in everyday products such as:
- Personal care products (shampoo, cosmetics, dental floss)
- Food packaging (Pizza boxes, fast-food wrappers, grease-resistant paper)
Due to the concerning findings, the EPA added four PFAS chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list, meaning any facility that manufactures or processes at least one of the four PFAS chemicals must report their releases to the EPA.
“We will use every tool in our toolbox to protect our communities from PFAS pollution,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff.
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New Climate-Friendly Chemicals Aimed to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions to be Reviewed
To fight for a healthier, more sustainable future, the EPA announced they will review new chemicals that would replace current transportation fuels that emit high levels of greenhouse gas.
“Using sound science to streamline the review of more environmentally friendly chemical substitutes will help advance the Agency’s climate goals and protect human health and the environment,” said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff.
The effort contributes to the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, which is in place to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Petroleum-based transportation fuel, heat oil, and jet fuel have been targeted as high greenhouse gas emitters.
Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircrafts May Endanger Human Health – EPA to Investigate
The largest source of air-based lead emissions – piston-engine aircrafts – will be investigated by the EPA to deem whether their lead emissions are contributing to air pollution that endangers public health.
“EPA has been investigating the air quality impact of lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft near airports for years, and now we’re going to apply that information to determine whether this pollution endangers human health and welfare,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
This investigation practice is referred to as “endangerment finding,” and is enforced under the Clean Air Act.
Lead exposure is particularly dangerous for children, having potentially life-altering or threatening effects. Even small samples of lead found in children have shown to affect IQ, attention-span, and academic standing. For adults, lead exposure can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension and cardiovascular effects.
Fortunately, levels of airborne lead across the United States have decreased by up to 99% since the 1980s. However, piston-engine aircraft remain operating on leaded fuel, which stemmed the investigation.
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Environmental Safety Awareness Topic of the Month
Asbestos is a dangerous, yet commonly-used fiber often implemented in building construction materials due to its strength and heat resistance. Manufactured goods such as shingles, ceilings, floor tiles, and other cement or paper-based products often contain asbestos.
Asbestos must remain in a controlled environment. If released into the air and ingested – typically caused by demolition work, maintenance, or remodeling – asbestos can become extremely dangerous with life-altering effects. It can take up to 20 years for asbestos to become detectable and show its side effects – making it incredibly difficult to identify and treat.
Those effects can include:
- Lung cancer
Most at risk of inhaling dangerously high levels of asbestos are construction workers, other people exposed to construction or demolition sites, and people occupying old homes or buildings (asbestos was much more common throughout the 20th century).
Stay safe by learning more here.
Have you tested your home for Radon?
January is National Radon Action Month. Many homeowners may not be aware of the danger of radon, or even know anything about the toxic gas.
Radon starts underground, beneath the foundation of your home, ultimately escaping through the ground and into the air above. The radioactive gas can then enter your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Then, radon can become trapped inside your home and continue building up over time. Both new and old homes are at risk.
Radon has been linked to causing lung cancer, and is particularly dangerous because even when present, it remains odorless and colorless.
Millions of homes nationwide have dangerously high levels of radon. Unfortunately, about 21,000 people die each year because of radon exposure, making it the second leading cause of lung cancer, only after smoking.
Learn more about the dangers of Radon here.