White House May Adopt PFAS Cleanup Level 10x Higher Than CDC Deems Safe

EWG: EPA Says ‘Public Health Be Damned’
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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

WASHINGTON – In its guidelines for addressing cleanup of groundwater and military and industrial sites contaminated with toxic fluorinated chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency is recommending a limit 10 times higher than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe is safe for human health.

Politico’s Annie Snider reported Tuesday that the EPA has sent the White House a recommendation to set a cleanup limit for the chemicals PFOA and PFOS of no more than 70 parts per trillion combined. The EPA’s recommendation is about 10 times higher than the levels recommended in a CDC study, and as much as five times higher than what some states have adopted as groundwater or drinking water standards.

According to Politico, the recommendation would not override state or tribal regulations. Independent studies say the safe level of the chemicals in drinking water is no more than 1 part per trillion.

PFOA and PFOS are members of a class of thousands of chemicals known as PFAS, and other chemicals in the class have also been found in groundwater and drinking water across the nation. Studies have linked PFOA and PFOS to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened childhood immunity and other health problems.

“The EPA has dragged its feet for 20 years on setting legally enforceable PFOA and PFOS limits, and this cleanup recommendation shows that the agency is still ignoring the best science on their health hazards,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., an EWG senior scientist. “As we are seeing with this administration’s decisions on a number of dangerous chemicals, President Trump and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s position is ‘public health be damned.’”


The Environmental Working Group 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.