PFAS news roundup

July 9: Lobbying leads to EPA corruption, EWG’s Inaugural PFAS Conference and more

Four whistleblowers from the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Environmental Protection Agency allege that the office tampered with dozens of assessments – including for new PFAS compounds – to give the appearance of safety. That’s according to an expose published last week by The Intercept.

The whistleblowers allege they faced intense pressure to play down or quash proof of possible adverse reactions to the chemicals, which included neurological problems, birth defects and cancer.

On Wednesday, July 14, EWG will host our Inaugural PFAS Conference. It will bring together scientists, policymakers, advocates and market leaders to discuss the latest developments in science and regulation, and share what’s being done to address the health harms to people and the environment caused by these compounds.

New PFAS science

  • PFAS exposure was associated with behavioral and executive function problems in a study on the effects of early-life and mid-childhood PFAS exposure.
  • A study of PFAS in the hair of people in four regions of Italy found that two-thirds of the analyzed population had measurable amounts of PFAS. The researchers didn’t detect differences in the amounts of PFAS found in men and women across age groups but did find differences among the four regions.  
  • In Spain, research on PFAS in breast milk found that at least seven PFAS compounds were detected in the milk of almost one-third of donors. PFOA was found in 84 percent of donor milk. Short-chain PFAS were found at higher concentrations than long-chain PFAS in all samples.
  • There was no clear link between PFAS exposure and body mass index in a Danish study. However, PFOA exposure was negatively associated with abdominal fat. 
  • Higher levels of exposure in mid-childhood to PFOA, PFOS and PFDA were associated with later puberty, according to one study.
  • A peer-reviewed study reviews the occurrence of PFAS compounds in U.S. aquatic environments, compared to global concentrations.
  • A peer-reviewed paper was published on using heat-activated persulfate to more effectively clean up sites contaminated with firefighting foam.

More PFAS news

  • Fluorinated high-density polyethylene packaging for various consumer products contain PFAS compound, according to an Environmental Defense Fund article analyzing an EPA study. The PFAS were produced in the packaging when fluorine gas was applied to the plastic, a technique allowed by the Food and Drug Administration for food packaging and cosmetic containers.
  • Two of 130 Maryland drinking water systems recently tested for PFAS had levels exceeding the inadequate EPA health advisory value, but many more systems had detectable PFAS contamination, according to recently released test results.
  • The many ways that the social costs of PFAS pollution are borne by the public is the subject of “The True Cost of PFAS and the Benefits of Acting Now,” in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
  • The FDA detailed its efforts to gain insight into the presence of PFAS compounds in the food supply.

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


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