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Editorial: Where EPA fails, state must act

Editorial: Where EPA fails, state must act

Federal agency not doing its job by not setting limits for PFOA, PFOS contamination
Editorial: Where EPA fails, state must act
Photographer: bakdc / Shutterstock.com

Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental and Protection.

They’re the first two words in the name!

Established in 1970 by President Nixon (a Republican, by the way), the EPA was needed to protect citizens from the health-related effects of decades of irresponsible and criminal contamination of the environment.

Yet here we are, under another Republican president nearly 50 years after the agency was established, and the federal government is actively abdicating its responsibility to the citizens in favor of wealthy corporations whose concern for profits trumps their civic responsibility.

One such act directly affects our area.

The EPA is expected to announce soon that it will not establish drinking water limits for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

These two chemicals were dumped into local water supplies in Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, Vt., Bennington, Vt., and other places around the state by companies creating coatings for such items as cooking pans, stain-free carpeting, waterproof clothing and other products.

Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to serious health issues, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, colitis and high blood pressure.

Yet despite this evidence, our federal government won’t even set basic limits for how much of the chemical is allowed in drinking water before action must be taken.

According to Politico, the companies that discharge the chemicals into the environment will face no federal requirements for testing of the chemicals or for removing them from the water supply.

This despite the fact that the EPA’s draft chemical plan includes listing the two chemicals as hazardous under the federal Superfund law, Politico reported.

If the chemicals are hazardous under Superfund, does it make sense that the EPA won’t set minimum standards for public drinking water supplies?

The EPA decision emphasizes the Cuomo administration’s own dragging of its feet in addressing the problem and necessitates the need for state regulation.

Back in December, the New York State Drinking Water Quality Council finally recommended the state set maximum contaminant levels for PFOA and PFOS — 10 parts per trillion per contaminant — the toughest standards in the nation.

With further study of the health impacts of these chemicals and others in the chemical family of PFAS, the regulations might need to be made more stringent.

It’s vital that New York immediately enact and enforce its own regulations, as well as set aside funding to identify, test and clean up contaminated sites.

If the federal government won’t do its job and protect us from chemical contamination, the state must do it for them.

There’s no more time to waste.

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