EPA Makes Bold Move, Sets New Precedent by Designating PFOS and PFOA as Hazardous Substances

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances underscores the agency's commitment to addressing serious threats posed by per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals to public health and the environment. The designation comes under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund.


“Today's announcement is another momentous victory in the long fight to protect people and wildlife from PFAS,” said Rebecca Meuninck Great Lakes regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation. “Many communities and wildlife in the Great Lakes region have been heavily impacted by these toxic chemicals and are overdue for the resources that this hazardous substance designation will provide them.”

“Today’s designation will ensure that more PFAS contaminated sites get cleaned up and that those responsible for the pollution can be held accountable for the cost,” said Jim Murphy, senior director of legal advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation. “It is imperative that we clean up existing PFAS contamination and stop PFAS at its source, before it threatens public health and wildlife by entering our drinking water and environment in the first place.”

The designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances grants the EPA broader authority to respond to contamination incidents and hold responsible parties accountable for cleanup efforts. This designation enhances the EPA's ability to address environmental justice concerns, particularly in overburdened and underserved communities disproportionately impacted by PFOA and PFOS contamination. 


PFOA and PFOS, part of the group of PFAS chemicals commonly known as "forever chemicals," have been linked to severe health risks, including developmental impacts, certain cancers, and adverse effects on vital organs such as the heart and liver. These chemicals persist in the environment, move through soil and water, and thus pose challenges for containment and removal. 


Recognizing the urgent need for action, the EPA has taken significant steps under the Biden Administration to address PFOA and PFOS contamination.

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