‘Forever Chemicals’ Pose Serious Danger to Public Health, Warns EPA

In a stunning move, the Environmental Protection Agency has reduced the safe level of chemical PFOA by more than 17,000 times what the agency had previously declared to be tolerable. Indeed, any detectable amount of PFOA and PFOS is unsafe to consume, USA Today and other news outlets have reported.

USA Today: EPA finds no safe levels for toxic PFAS in thousands of water systems

The Environmental Protection Agency stunned scientists and local officials across the country on Wednesday by issuing new health advisories for toxic “eternal chemicals” known to be in thousands of drinking water systems in United States, potentially affecting millions of people. The new advisories reduce the safety level of chemical PFOA from more than 17,000 times what the agency had previously said was protective of public health, to just four “parts per quadrillion”. The safety level of a sister chemical, PFOS, has been reduced by a factor of 3,500. The chemicals are part of a class of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as the name of chemicals forever because of their extreme resistance to disintegration. They have been linked to different types of cancer, low birth weight, thyroid disease, and other health issues. Indeed, according to the agency, any detectable amount of PFOA and PFOS is unsafe to consume. (Bagenstosis, 6/15)

The Washington Post: EPA Warns ‘Forever Chemicals’ PFAS Are More Dangerous Than Thought

The Environmental Protection Agency warned on Wednesday that a group of man-made chemicals found in drinking water, cosmetics and food packaging used by millions of Americans pose a greater danger to human health than regulators never thought so before. New health advisories for a ubiquitous class of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, underscore the risk faced by dozens of communities across the country. Linked to infertility, thyroid problems and several types of cancer, these “eternal chemicals” can linger in the environment for years without degrading. (Grandoni, 6/15)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: EPA recommendations for PFAS in drinking water well below those of Wisconsin

The federal government released a series of new recommended health limits for “forever chemicals” on Wednesday, with numbers significantly lower than the standards Wisconsin adopted this week. In its announcement, the Environmental Protection Agency called on states and territories to apply for the $1 billion in funding made available to tackle PFAS by the bipartisan infrastructure package passed earlier this year. The new interim standards are 0.004 parts per trillion for PFOA, 0.02 parts per trillion for PFOS, 10 ppt for GenX chemicals and 2000 ppt for PFBS. (Schulte, 6/15)

In the news on air pollution —

Axios: Most Americans live with dangerous levels of air pollution

More than 92% of Americans live in an area with hazardous air pollution, which could lead to a reduction in life expectancy, according to the latest Air Quality Index from the University of Chicago. Some Americans could add more than a year to their lives if they lived somewhere with cleaner air. Air pollution can affect not only the lungs, but also the heart, upper respiratory tract and many other organs. (Dreher, 06/15)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Air quality in Atlanta has improved, but still gets an F in annual survey

Metro Atlanta’s air quality has improved dramatically over the past two decades, but the area still received a failing grade from the American Lung Association for harmful smog this year. . And experts warn that climate change threatens to derail hard-won progress. Atlanta ranked 51st most polluted city for smog and 37th for soot year-round in the association’s State of the Air report. Atlanta improved 16 places for smog and six places for soot all year from a year ago. The ALA and state officials attribute the improvement in the Atlanta area to long-term trends related to the federal Clean Air Act, which, among other things, sets standards for air quality. air and emissions from vehicles and industry. (Lutz, 6/15)

Dangerous heat continues to hit the United States –

The New York Times: Dangerously hot weather hits 60 million Americans

Millions of people are expected to suffer scorching conditions again on Thursday with heat warnings and advisories in effect, mostly in the Midwest and Southeast, the National Weather Service said, adding it could take weeks to see relief. More than 60 million people from southern California to West Virginia and as far south as Florida were under an excessive heat warning or heat advisory, meteorologists said. On Wednesday, residents in several states saw temperatures soar into the 90s, and in some cases as high as 100, according to National Weather Service forecasters. They said warm temperatures would likely persist across large parts of the country for several days. (Albeck-Ripka and Bryson Taylor, 6/15)

NBC News: Water has been partially restored in Odessa, Texas, after major service cut during heat wave

Residents of a West Texas town slowly regained water service on Wednesday, officials said, after a main break on Tuesday left the community dry during an early summer heat wave . When a pipe under the famous oil boom city of Odessa burst, around 165,000 people in the region suddenly lost the ability to turn on their taps for basic household functions such as drinking, cooking, cleaning and use the toilet. (Li, 06/15)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage by major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

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