WASHINGTON – The Environmental Working Group today released an update to a comprehensive report card tracking whether federal agencies are meeting deadlines for addressing the health and environmental threats of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
EWG found that federal agencies completed 26 important actions slated to be wrapped up by the end of summer. Another 13 actions are due to be completed in the next few weeks. Only six actions are overdue. Federal agencies have completed nearly 90 percent of the actions promised in the first year since the Biden administration launched a government-wide initiative to tackle PFAS.
“No administration has pledged to do more to address PFAS than the Biden administration, and it is mostly delivering,” said John Reeder, EWG’s vice president of federal affairs, who previously served as deputy chief of staff at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Highlights include an EPA proposal to designate the two most notorious PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances and a Department of Defense policy to stop buying products made with those chemicals. This fall, the EPA is expected to propose a federal drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS and expand reporting of industrial releases of PFAS. The DOD is expected to issue a congressionally mandated clean-up schedule.
The EPA has pledged to take nearly 50 measures over all, and the DOD has pledged or is required by law to take nearly 25. The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have each pledged to take just three PFAS actions, even though food is thought to be a major source of PFAS exposure.
“EWG’s report card unmasks the dramatic contrast between what’s being proposed and implemented by the EPA and the DOD, and the very little being proposed by the FDA and USDA,” Reeder said.
The deadlines are helping jump-start efforts to address PFAS contamination, but without enough urgency, Reeder said. “It will be years before PFAS are reduced from industrial discharges, eliminated from household items and cleaned up at contaminated sites, including potentially hundreds of DOD facilities,” he said.
Reeder urged the House and Senate to quickly set deadlines to limit industrial discharges of PFAS, as has been proposed in both the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act and the House version of the PFAS Action Act.
“Federal agencies need – and affected communities deserve – real, transparent deadlines,” Reeder said. “Communities have waited decades for action.”
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.