By Adam W. Pittman on June 20, 2022
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated health advisories for chemicals PFOA and PFOS – both commonly found in drinking water systems across the United States – finding that safe levels of exposure to the toxic chemicals are up to 17,000 times lower than previously thought.
The agency’s updated advisory levels show negative health effects can occur even with the slimmest exposure to the chemicals, down to concentrations near zero.
PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) are waterproof and stain-repellant chemicals, part of the chemical family ‘PFAS’ (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS are a large, diverse family of compounds that have historically been widely used in manufacturing for materials such as carpets, rugs, and cookware due to their resistance to extreme temperatures. However, findings in the early 2000s showed that PFAS can remain in human blood over a long period of time, leading to their nickname, “forever chemicals.”
The presence of PFOA and PFOS in the human body over time leads to increased risk of serious health conditions, including several types of cancer. PFAS exposure has also been linked to low birthweights, thyroid disease, and other health conditions (EPA).
In their recent health advisory, the EPA showed safe levels of exposure to PFAS (the levels at which harms might not occur) are down from 70 ppt (parts per trillion) to .004 ppt for PFOA and from 70 ppt to .002 ppt for PFOS.
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The new findings are hugely concerning given the widespread use of PFAS since they originated in 1946, when DuPont first began developing non-stick cookware with Teflon. Now, it’s estimated that more than 2,000 communities utilize drinking water that contains levels of PFAS that exceeds the EPA’s recent safe levels of exposure findings.
As of 2021, more than 200 million people nationwide were exposed to PFAS through their tap water, despite the substances mostly phased out in 2015 due to previous alarming EPA findings. Up to 99% of Americans now have at least some level of PFAS in their body, and scientists have concluded that PFAS chemicals are likely detectable in every major water supply across the United States.
Exposure to PFAS Can Occur When:
- Drinking water contaminated with PFAS
- Breathing air contaminated with PFAS
- Eating food, particularly fish, that consumed PFAS
- Handling paper-packaged food contaminated with PFAS
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For more information on updated drinking water health advisories for PFAS such as PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, and PFBS, click here. The advisories provide information such as drinking water system operators, local and state officials responsible for overseeing the systems, and information on the health risks associated with these chemicals.
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Cory Watson’s team of lawyers have fought to get justice and compensation for people harmed by dangerous chemicals like PFAS for decades. If you’ve been harmed by PFAS or another toxic chemical, contact us today to discuss your case with the experienced environmental personal injury lawyers by calling (877) 562-0000.
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