PFAS news roundup

July 30: Historic infrastructure bill includes ‘forever chemicals’ provisions, PFAS dischargers shirk EPA reporting and more

This week, the Senate introduced a $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes billions of dollars to clean up the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The White House said, “… the deal’s $55 billion investment represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS.”

On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its 2020 data on chemical releases, management and pollution prevention through its Toxics Release Inventory, or TRI, program. The National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2020 mandated the reporting of PFAS compounds to the TRI. But only a tiny fraction of the more than 30,000 manufacturers suspected of discharging PFAS reported their releases to the EPA, likely because of reporting exemptions.

“Knowing where facilities are releasing PFAS, and how much, will help the EPA take much-needed action to limit industrial discharges of PFAS,” said Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at EWG.

New PFAS science

  • High concentrations of PFAA, a type of PFAS, were found in melting sea ice taken from the Arctic. Scientists hypothesized that these high levels were due to an accumulation of PFAA in the ice from both sea water and atmospheric deposits from snow.
  • Researchers in the Faroe Islands published an analysis of the impacts of PFAS on adult response to the hepatitis A and heptatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines. The study concluded that PFAS exposure reduced immune response to both hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. There was no evidence of reduced immune response to the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines.
  • Urine samples from workers at an acrylic fiber plant and a chemical plant were analyzed for PFAS compounds. The study found that PFAS levels were higher in the urine of male workers than female workers. Short-chain PFAS were the most common compounds.

David Andrews, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist, provides details in this video, directed and produced by Emily Wathen.

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