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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sought public comments on its proposal to limit and regulate several types of “forever chemicals” called perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS have been around since the 1940s and are known for their resistance to environmental degradation – hence their nickname, “forever chemicals.”
EPA’s proposed changes are in response to recent research that PFAS harm human health, with negative impacts from fetal growth to cancer risk.
June 2023 Update: 832 Salud America! members submitted a model comment to support the regulation of PFAS in drinking water and the environment to protect the health of Latino and all communities. 121,969 people submitted comments overall.
Comment period ended May 30, 2023.
Every American has a right to safe drinking water.
For the health of Latinos and all Americans, I support EPA’s plans to regulate and limit harmful PFAS in drinking water and the environment.
Considering the potentially devastating health impacts of PFAS exposure, it is unacceptable for these chemicals to be released into and remain in the environment at unsafe levels (https://salud.to/PFASbm).
While researchers have made strides in destroying PFAS in water, we must address PFAS contamination at the source with enforced regulations, as even undetectable levels of PFAS can pose human health risks, including damage to fetal growth and increased cancer risk (https://salud.to/pfasdes).
PFAS affect everyone but may impact some populations more than others. For instance, Latino families are more likely to live in neighborhoods where there is a lack of clean and safe drinking water (https://salud-america.org/the-nitrate-nuisance-in-drinking-water-and-its-impact-on-latinos/) and where utility companies have less funding to meet community needs.
Therefore, environmental regulation of harmful PFAS is critical for all Americans, but especially those who are vulnerable to exposure, such as Latinos. I applaud EPA’s proposed plans to regulate and limit PFAS chemicals in drinking water and the environment, which could help ensure a healthier future with less exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
How Do PFAS Affect Latinos?
PFAS can be found in cosmetics, food packaging, fire-fighting foam, furniture, and other common objects we encounter daily.
PFAS have become so ubiquitous in the environment that they are present in our food and water and have even made their way into human breast milk.
This means that people of all backgrounds are affected by PFAS contamination, but Latinos may be even more exposed because of where they live and work.
For instance, many Latinos live in food deserts or food swamps, where access to healthy food is limited. Latinos in these areas may turn to unhealthy fast-food items that are packaged in PFAS-containing items, increasing risk of exposure. Further, the consumption of these products contributes to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Latinos also live in areas where safe drinking water is already hard to come by. In these areas, Latinos may turn to expensive bottled water and sugary beverages for safe drinking options, which further increases the risk of chronic diseases.
Studies also show that Latinos are frequent buyers of many foods that contain PFAS, including fresh produce, meats, and seafood.
No matter the method of exposure, PFAS chemicals can contribute to worsened health disparities and outcomes among Latinos.
That is why EPA is proposing new PFAS limits and regulations.
“EPA is proposing enforceable Safe Drinking Water Act limits on the two oldest PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS. EPA is also considering an innovative approach to the problem of the thousands of other PFAS chemicals, some of which are also being found in drinking water. EPA is proposing to regulate four of these other chemicals individually or in mixtures, which could help us move toward addressing these risky chemicals as a class,” according to Clean Water Action, which is also helping people submit comments.
“EPA’s proposal is based on analysis of the latest science, which links PFAS to a wide range of health impacts.”
What Are the Next Steps for the EPA’s Proposed Regulation of PFAS?
Public input on the regulation of PFAS is critical because PFAS contamination affects Latinos and all Americans.
Commenting on the proposed regulation lets federal officials know about the potential impact of their decisions. Participating in the rulemaking process also allows you or your organization to shape federal programs and rules, according to Unidos US.
The comment period ended on May 30, 2023.
The EPA is now reviewing the comments and determining how to move forward.