Attorney General Becerra Pushes EPA to Expand Review of Toxic “Forever Chemicals”
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing a comment letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen and expand regulation of per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (collectively known as PFAS) under the Safe Water Drinking Act. PFAS chemicals, known as "forever chemicals," have been shown to cause adverse health effects including developmental defects, kidney cancer, liver damage, and impacts on the thyroid and immune system.
“The EPA’s mission is to protect public health and the environment, yet under the current administration, the EPA's actions - and inaction - have done irreparable damage to both,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The toxic effects of forever chemicals are indisputable. They taint our water, damage public health, and harm the environment. So there is no time to waste. The EPA has a responsibility to protect our communities from preventable harms at this critical moment for public health.”
PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals widely used in consumer products including nonstick cookware, water- and wrinkle-resistant clothing, and food packaging, as well as in firefighting foam. These "forever chemicals" are stable in the environment, resistant to degradation, persistent in soil, and known to leach into groundwater. Human exposure can occur from contaminated air, water, soil, or food. Like many states, California has struggled with the public health challenge of PFAS-contaminated drinking water and widespread public exposure to PFAS at dangerous levels.
In March, the EPA issued a preliminary decision to move forward with the regulation of two previously unregulated PFAS contaminants. In the comment letter, the coalition urges the EPA to take further action to strengthen and expand regulation of PFAS chemicals, both as a class and individually, in order to protect our communities from adverse health effects caused by exposure to the chemicals. Specifically, the coalition:
- Encourages the regulation of other PFAS chemicals, in addition to the two contaminants addressed in the EPA's preliminary determination;
- Urges expedited action to finalize regulations addressing health concerns related to PFAS exposure; and
- Pushes the EPA to set limits on the amount of PFAS in drinking water below the current health advisory level.
Attorney General Becerra has taken continued action to protect the public from the dangers of PFAS. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra and other state attorneys general filed comment letters urging the EPA to broaden and strengthen the review and regulation of PFAS and to list PFAS on the Toxics Release Inventory under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. In 2019, Attorney General Becerra filed a multistate comment letter opposing the EPA’s Draft Interim Recommendations for addressing groundwater contaminated with PFAS. He also submitted a multistate comment letter in support of Congress’s efforts to pass legislation addressing the dangers of PFAS.
Attorneys General Becerra, Shapiro, and Kaul are joined by the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia in filing the comment letter.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.