PFAs

For 20-Plus Years, EPA Has Failed To Regulate ‘Forever Chemicals’

The Environmental Protection Agency was first alerted to the health hazards of toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS, in 1998. In the decades since, the agency has failed to set enforceable regulations on PFAS in drinking water, food, food packaging and a wide array of other everyday consumer goods.

In 2009 and 2019, the EPA announced toothless PFAS “action plans” that fall far short of what is needed to protect Americans, even as reams of studies have linked some PFAS to cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, thyroid disease and other serious health impacts.

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1998


3M alerts EPA that PFOS, the PFAS chemical in Scotchgard, builds up in blood.

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1998


3M sends rat studies to EPA, showing liver damage from PFAS exposure.

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1999


EPA begins audit of 3M studies.

EPA AUDIT
3M RESPONSE

2001


Attorney Rob Bilott provides EPA with secret DuPont documents on PFOA, the PFAS chemical in Teflon.

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2001


3M submits PFOS toxicity studies to EPA.

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2002


EPA initiates a “priority review” of PFOA.

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2005


DuPont urges EPA to “restate safety of [PFOA] products and no health effects.”

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2005


EPA fines DuPont $10.25 million for failing to report “substantial risk of injury to human health” from PFOA.

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2006


EPA brokers a voluntary agreement with DuPont, 3M and other companies to phase out the use of PFOS and PFOA. Announcing the agreement, EPA says “to date, EPA is not aware of any studies specifically relating current levels of PFOA exposure to human health effects.”

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2006


Following requests from DuPont, EPA tells consumers that it is safe to use products made with PFAS.

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2006


3M shares hundreds of secret documents with EPA, resulting in more than $1.5 million in penalties.

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2006


EPA Science Advisory Board draft report finds PFOA to be a “likely human carcinogen.”

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2009


EPA publishes a “provisional health advisory” for PFOA and PFOS.

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2009


EPA publishes first PFC action plan.

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2012


EPA requires one-time monitoring by public water systems for some PFAS chemicals.

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2015


EPA proposes a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) for long-chain PFAS chemicals – as of February 2020, yet to be implemented.

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2016


EPA sets a non-enforceable “health advisory” level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water – far above what independent researchers say is safe.

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2019


EPA issues second PFAS Action Plan.

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2019


EPA misses self-assigned deadline to issue a plan to set an enforceable legal limit for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water by the end of 2019.

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