President Donald Trump’s administration has released a politically charged toxicology report about nonstick chemicals showing they can endanger human health at significantly lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has previously called safe.
The draft report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is a toxicological profile of four types of stain- and water-resistant chemicals.
It finds that so-called “minimum risk levels” for the toxins should be seven to 10 times lower than standards set by EPA in 2016.
The lowest level included in the ATSDR report is 12 parts per trillion in drinking water, which is greater than 80% below the current maximum safe level EPA has advised for two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
By contrast, the 2016 EPA voluntary health advisory for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) warned that exposure to the chemicals at levels above 70 parts per trillion could be dangerous.
The report’s release follows mounting congressional pressure from both sides of the aisle after news surfaced last month that a White House official in January had warned that releasing the report would be a “potential public relations nightmare” (E&E Daily, May 15).
Just last week, senators offered an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill that would require the Trump administration to publish the toxicology report within seven days of the bill’s passage.
The amendment was drafted by Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and was co-sponsored by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ohio Senators Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D).
House of Representatives lawmakers in May also sent a letter to EPA and the White House demanding the report’s release.
Today, Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) said of the report’s release: “It’s about time.”
“It was outrageous, and a violation of the trust we place in our public officials, that for months, the administration held back publication of this report,” she said.
Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) called the report’s findings “deeply concerning because it demonstrates that PFAS chemicals are more dangerous to human health than the EPA has previously acknowledged.”
He urged the Trump administration to “address PFAS contamination with more urgency.”
“We must ensure that families and veterans exposed to these dangerous chemicals receive the health care and clean-up resources they need,” he said in a statement.