Biden Administration launches plan to combat PFOA pollution

Politics

Water flows from a bathroom tap (Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS10) — The Biden-Harris Administration has announced a plan to protect Americans from PFAS pollution. PFAS is a group of harmful chemicals that can cause serious health problems.

PFAS include PFOA and PFOS. PFOA has been found in the Capital Region, including Petersburgh, Hoosick Falls, and most recently Poestenkill. PFOA was found in Algonquin Middle School and several residences in Poestenkill.

The administration said this new plan will safeguard public health, protect the environment, and will help prevent PFAS from being released into the air, drinking systems, and food supply.

The new plan includes:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency launching a new PFAS Roadmap. The roadmap includes a new national testing strategy, a proposal to designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances, and actions to broaden and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS.
  • The Department of Defense (DOD) addressing PFAS at DOD sites throughout the country. The Department is currently conducting PFAS cleanup assessments at the nearly 700 DOD installations and National Guard locations where PFAS was used or may have been released, and expects to have completed all initial assessments by the end of 2023.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanding its testing of the food supply to advance its work to estimate dietary exposure to PFAS from food. Over the next three years, FDA will engage with and continue to support states when suspected areas of PFAS contamination may impact food.
  • The Department of Agriculture (USDA) supporting research on PFAS in the food system and taking action to prevent and address contamination. USDA’s Agricultural Research Service researchers are investigating the causes and implications of PFAS in the food system.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigating and remediating PFAS to protect emergency responders. DHS conducted the first-ever inventory of PFAS use and prior releases from its facilities, including uses in firefighting foams and other PFAS-containing materials, and possible water source contamination. To address the presence of PFAS at DHS facilities, DHS will alert the Office of the Chief Readiness Support Officer, conduct follow-up investigations, and take appropriate response actions.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services reviewing the science on human health and PFAS, including through a groundbreaking study by Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in eight states that will provide information about the health effects of PFAS exposure.
  • Scientific agencies advancing innovation on PFAS. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is conducting research on the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS in emergencies. FAA and DOD are working to find a PFAS-free firefighting foam alternative. The National Institute of Standards and Technology are working to identify and quantify the relative risk to first responders of PFAS in firefighting gear. The National Science Foundation was recently awarded $4.1 million to research innovative approaches to tackle PFAS contamination.
  • The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) created an interagency focused on PFAS actions. To facilitate the coordination of PFAS response activities across government, Administration officials convened a first meeting of the newly-formed Interagency Policy Committee on PFAS.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda both include dedicated funding to address PFAS contamination in drinking water. Specifically, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes $10 billion in grants to address emerging contaminants, including PFAS, through the State Revolving Funds and small and disadvantaged community programs.

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