Citing GenX chemical compounds, EPA announces major strategy to combat PFAS contamination

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a new strategy to combat contamination from chemical compounds found in everything from nonstick pans to waterproof clothing.

"These unregulated chemical compounds became prominent in our everyday lives, propelled by the promise of a better life supposedly made easier by technology," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. "They've eluded the federal oversight for far too long. They will no longer be able to elude federal oversight."

Specifically, the "PFAS Strategic Roadmap" is a three year plan aimed at per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances through a new national testing standards that requires PFAS manufacturers to provide the agency with toxicity data and information on categories of PFAS chemicals. The Roadmap also includes the following initiatives:

  • Aggressive timelines to set enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act to ensure water is safe to drink in every community.

  • A hazardous substance designation under CERCLA, to strengthen the ability to hold polluters financially accountable.

  • Timelines for action-whether it is data collection or rulemaking-on Effluent Guideline Limitations under the Clean Water Act for nine industrial categories.

  • A review of past actions on PFAS taken under the Toxic Substances Control Act to address those that are insufficiently protective.

  • Increased monitoring, data collection and research so that the agency can identify what actions are needed and when to take them.

  • A final toxicity assessment for GenX, which can be used to develop health advisories that will help communities make informed decisions to better protect human health and ecological wellness.

  • Continued efforts to build the technical foundation needed on PFAS air emissions to inform future actions under the Clean Air Act.

Communities affected by GenX demand transparency, action

Regan, the former Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, made the announcement at NC State University where researchers first discovered PFAS contaminants in the Cape Fear River, including GenX.

"We're going to work with the states to make sure none of these polluters get discharge permits to continue to put this stuff in the air and water," Regan said. "We're going to use the full arm of our enforcement abilities to hold these polluters and take them to task."

Despite an audience overwhelmingly made up of North Carolina Democrats, the Roadmap is earning praise from North Carolina Republicans.

"I'm glad to see the EPA give these toxic forever chemicals the attention they deserve. We need a comprehensive and reasonable approach to combat PFAS and I look forward to reviewing the EPA's Roadmap," said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina). "I have long demanded action and accountability on behalf of our community. I want to thank Administrator Regan, whom I respect and worked with in our state, for developing this initiative. I will continue to work with the Administrator and my colleagues in Congress to make sure citizens near the Cape Fear River and throughout our region have access to safe drinking water."
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