A study released in June by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on the toxicity of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemical family is challenging the federal standards for chemical safety recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The White House had tried to block the release of the report because of the wide discrepancies between what the EPA and ATSDR considered safe levels of exposure to the chemicals.
The Department of Health and Human Services conducted the study through the ATSDR and concluded that the EPA’s safety recommendations were insufficient. In fact, the ATSDR study recommends maximum levels of exposure that are seven to ten times lower than those recommended by the EPA.
PFAS is a family of 14 different chemicals that are used in common household and industrial products and are known to cause serious health complications, including cancer. Drinking water in parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania has been found to exceed the current “maximum contaminant level” of two of the chemicals in the PFAS group.
The PFAS chemicals have been used in products like carpeting, upholstery, clothing, paper food wrappers, fabric stain repellents and stain removers, fire-resistant materials, non-stick cookware, and fire-fighting foam. Careless handling by manufacturers and industrial users has led to extensive environmental pollution.
The greatest risk of exposure comes from household drinking water.
Among the health effects of exposure to PFAS, including PFOA, are fertility problems, low infant birth weight, thyroid disease, liver and kidney damage, autoimmune disorders, developmental delays in children, and cancer.
Once PFAS are consumed, they stay in the body for long periods of time, as they are not broken down in the normal digestive process.
The chemicals are not currently regulated by the federal government. Instead, individual states promulgate their own safety standards. This is concerning for environmental and health safety advocates who point out the deficiencies in the EPA standards on which many state regulations are based.
The EPA issued a recent statement saying that it will review the findings in the ATSDR report and determine whether PFAS chemicals need to be regulated by the federal government.
Victims of chemical exposure may be eligible for compensation through a toxic tort lawsuit. The laws surrounding toxic tort lawsuits are often overwhelming for those exposed to dangers levels of toxic chemicals. An experienced and knowledgeable Pennsylvania environmental lawyer or South Jersey environmental lawyer can help victims determine whether they have evidence to support their claim of illness and injury.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with an illness that you believe was caused by exposure to a toxic chemical, contact the Pennsylvania environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar or South Jersey environmental lawyers at Williams Cedar. To arrange a free consultation, call us at our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania location at 215-557-0099 or our Haddonfield, New Jersey location at 856-470-9777 or complete our online contact form. We represent clients in Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, South Jersey, and nationwide.