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Public Interest Groups Call for Release of Suppressed U.S. Study on PFAS Chemicals

WASHINGTON - A wide-ranging coalition of public interest groups is calling for the immediate release of a suppressed federal study that says perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water are hazardous at much lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines state.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services secretary, the groups wrote that the family of bioaccumulative and persistent chemicals known as PFAS “are potent toxicants linked to cancer, liver and thyroid damage, developmental impacts, and numerous other adverse health effects, including harming our immune systems. The government should be sharing information about these dangers, not hiding it.”

More than 50 organizations, including public health, environment, faith-based, farming and ranching, and legal advocacy groups signed the letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The study in question is a draft by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry proposing that safe exposure levels for PFAS chemicals are up to ten times lower than the EPA’s non-enforceable guidelines. Its existence came to light last month after the release of  thousands of emails showing that the EPA, the Defense Department and the White House sought to hold up the study, fearing a “public relations nightmare.”

An recent analysis of EPA-mandated tests of public water systems from 2013 to 2015 found that more than 16 million Americans in 33 states have PFAS chemicals in their drinking water. But because the EPA’s reporting thresholds were set too high, the actual number of people with contaminated water is much higher – by one estimate, as many as 110 million are affected.




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