The long-anticipated PFAS study finds tougher standards may be in order
A new report released by the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) caused negative health effects in rodents at a lower equivalent level in humans than previously recognized by the U.S. EPA. The study reported that the federal advisory level for the emerging contaminant at 70 ppt is seven to 10 times higher than when HHS first said it noticed health effects in animals, as reported by ABC News.
While the study did not specifically recommend a new advisory level, it cautioned that the human health impacts may be greater than previously thoughts. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has estimated that drinking water for 16 million Americans exceeds 70 ppt and has been found in more than 1,500 water systems.
HHS PFAS study has been a source of controversy after Politico reported earlier this year that EPA sought to withhold the study, calling it in an email a “public relations nightmare.” Following EPA’s PFAS National Leadership Summit and backlash from the scientific community, the study was released June 20 through the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
“This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health,” said Olga Naidenko, senior science advisor at EWG. “We urge EPA to collect and publish all water results showing PFAS contamination at any level.”