EPA designates 2 forever chemicals as hazardous substances

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EPA designates 2 forever chemicals as hazardous substances

In a significant environmental move, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this Friday that two notorious “forever chemicals” are now classified as hazardous substances. This landmark decision, pivotal in the realm of environmental legislation, targets a dramatic enhancement of Superfund site remediations and influences numerous development endeavors.

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EPA designates 2 forever chemicals as hazardous substances : The Rule’s Impact and Scope

The newly published final rule will be incorporated into the Federal Register and positions two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — known for their persistent nature in both the human body and the environment — under the scrutiny of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). These chemicals, specifically perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), are the most prevalent in the expansive PFAS family, which includes thousands of compounds.

Through this classification, the EPA gains the authority to initiate investigations and remediations concerning any releases of these chemicals, ensuring that incidents like leaks and spills are promptly reported. Under CERCLA’s guidelines, it is also possible for both the government and other entities to seek litigation to recover costs or contribute to the cleanups.

Health Risks and Environmental Damage

The EPA has underscored compelling evidence that both PFOA and PFOS pose significant risks to human health and the environment, linking them to several severe conditions such as cancers, liver and heart diseases, and developmental harms to infants and children.