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Protect Our Health: Lower the PHA Levels for PFCs to Non-Detect

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PFCs (perfluorochemicals) have been classified by the EPA as contaminants of emerging concern and they are showing up in our very own drinking water today. An “emerging contaminant is a chemical or material that is characterized by a perceived, potential or real threat to human health or the environment or by a lack of published health standards” and again, PFCs are showing up in our very own drinking water today.  The EPA has set short term exposure Provisional Health Advisories (weeks or months) for PFOA at 400 ppt (parts per trillion) and PFOS at 200 ppt. However, even short term exposure to these chemicals has been linked to serious and devastating health effects including kidney, prostate and testicular cancers, changes in liver enzymes, increased uric acid levels, changes to the immune system, increased cholesterol, decreased fertility, changes to the body’s natural hormones, and developmental delays in the fetus and child, including possible changes in growth, learning, and behavior. Most PFCs do not have PHAs, and all are currently unregulated.  They are man-made chemicals, not naturally found in the environment.

By signing our petition you are asking the EPA to protect our health and lower the PHA levels for PFCs to non-detect.

Each day more and more communities are discovering PFCs in their drinking water, yet the EPA has not lowered the PHA, nor have they set long term PHAs for these chemicals. Some states have been proactive and have lowered their health advisory levels, despite the EPA not doing so. Vermont has lowered their PHA for PFOA to 20 ppt (taking into account a child’s risk from exposure), with New York and Maine both lowering their PHAs for PFOA to 100 ppt. Again, the current short term exposure federal PHA for PFOA is 400 ppt.

Officials have taken the position that there is not enough research to create a direct correlation between PFCs and adverse health effects. However, PFCs have been studied for years, dating back to 2005, the first known case of PFC contamination and a link to adverse health effects. In May 2006, the EPA Science Advisory Board suggested that PFOA cancer data is consistent with the EPA guidelines for the Carcinogen Risk Assessment descriptor “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”  So clearly there is enough evidence to know that exposure, for any length of time, at any level, can be harmful to our health.

And yet PFCs are still showing up in our very own drinking water today.

PFCs are known to have long half-lives in the human body and are very stable in the environment, resisting degradation.  They bioaccumulate in humans, remaining in the blood for years after exposure (even with no additional exposure).  The half-lives of some of the most common PFCs have a range of 3.8 to 8.5 years.  Any amount of continued exposure to PFCs could have adverse effects on our health.

And yet PFCs are still showing up in our very own drinking water today.

These chemicals do not discriminate. According to the EPA’s Long Term PFCs Action Plan back in 2009, “Long-chain PFCs are a concern for children’s health. Studies in laboratory animals have demonstrated developmental toxicity, including neonatal mortality. Children’s exposures are greater than adults due to increased intakes of food, water, and air per pound of body weight, as well as child-specific exposure pathways such as breast milk consumption, mouthing and ingestion of non-food items, and increased contact with the floor. Biomonitoring studies have found PFCs in cord blood and breast milk, and have reported that children have higher levels of some PFCs compared to adults. Thus, given the pervasive exposure to PFCs, the persistence of PFCs in the environment, and studies finding deleterious health effects, EPA will examine the potential risks to fetuses and children.” 

And yet PFCs are still showing up in our very own drinking water today.

Safe and clean drinking water is a human right! Tell the EPA to Protect our Health and Lower the PHA levels for PFCs to non-detect.



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