Designating PFAS Chemicals as Hazardous Essential for People, Wildlife, Clean Water

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule designating PFOA and PFOS chemicals — two types of poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — as federally hazardous, is an important step forward to ensure clean water for people and wildlife. 

“This designation reinforces that PFOA and PFOS chemicals are not safe for people, fish, or wildlife,” said Jennifer Hill, associate director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. "This means all responsible parties, including the Department of Defense and corporate polluters, must now adhere to federal standards that are following the best available science. This rule will mandate action to deliver comprehensive, transparent cleanup to impacted communities."

The proposed rule designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is significant in the fight to protect people and wildlife from dangerous PFAS chemicals. PFAS are found in plastic packaging, firefighting foam, and numerous consumer products. These “forever chemicals" persist in people’s bodies and the environment and are linked to increased cancers and immune disorders in people and reduced reproductive success in wildlife. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, over 90 percent of Americans have had PFAS in their bloodstream. 

Earlier this summer, the EPA released updated lifetime health advisories for several PFAS chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS, setting them at .004 parts per trillion (ppt) and .02 ppt respectively. For context, one part per trillion is the equivalent of one drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. These advisories and the proposed rule released today leave no doubt that no amount of PFOA and PFOS chemicals are safe for people or wildlife. 


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