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New research finds that dust in buildings with older furniture is more likely to contain a suite of compounds that impact our health. Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

By Hannah Seo

If you've been considering throwing out that old couch, now might be a good time. Dust in buildings with older furniture is more likely to contain a suite of compounds that impact our health, according to new research.

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PFAS are found in clothing, plastic, food packaging, electronics, personal care products, firefighting foams, medical devices and numerous other products. Pxfuel

By Carol Kwiatkowski

Like many inventions, the discovery of Teflon happened by accident. In 1938, chemists from Dupont (now Chemours) were studying refrigerant gases when, much to their surprise, one concoction solidified. Upon investigation, they found it was not only the slipperiest substance they'd ever seen – it was also noncorrosive and extremely stable and had a high melting point.

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PFAS foam in Van Ettan Lake in Oscoda, Michigan near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base on Sept. 19, 2017. Michigan Department of Environment , Great Lakes, and Energy

By Kathryn Crawford

Nearly a year before the novel coronavirus emerged, Dr. Leonardo Trasande published "Sicker, Fatter, Poorer," a book about connections between environmental pollutants and many of the most common chronic illnesses. The book describes decades of scientific research showing how endocrine-disrupting chemicals, present in our daily lives and now found in nearly all people, interfere with natural hormones in our bodies. The title sums up the consequences: Chemicals in the environment are making people sicker, fatter and poorer.

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Since 2017, car manufacturers in Europe and the U.S. switched to a different coolant for air conditioning called HFO-1234yf, which breaks down into forever chemicals. hiphotos35 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Montreal Protocol of 1987 committed nations around the world to stop using the chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) that created a hole in the ozone layer. While it stands as one of the most effective environmental commitments the globe has seen, new research shows the side effects have been costly as chemicals dangerous to human health build up in the environment, as the BBC reported.

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EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler looks on during a news conference at the EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, on Sept. 19, 2019. ALASTAIR PIKE / AFP via Getty Images

When Congress updated the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 2016 for the first time in 40 years, public health and environmental advocates hoped it would be a game-changer for protecting Americans from dangerous chemicals, enabling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finally ban harmful substances like asbestos.

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We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Berg Middle School on Jan. 11 Newton, Iowa. Scott Olson / Getty Images

While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been in Washington this week for the impeachment trial, he has put forth two bills to help the environment.

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Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

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Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo speaks at the Fight Forever Chemicals Campaign kick off event on Capitol Hill on Nov. 19, 2019 in Washington, DC, with co-chairs of the PFAS task force Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). Paul Morigi / Getty Images

The White House announced Tuesday that it plans to veto the PFAS Action Act of 2019, which aims to keep harmful forever chemicals out of groundwater, as Newsweek reported.

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Mark Ruffalo, right, playing attorney Rob Bilott in the film Dark Waters. Credit: Dark Waters

By Sharon Kelly

Dark Waters, the new film starring Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott, is set in the Ohio River Valley city of Parkersburg, West Virginia — a place about 150 miles downstream from where Shell is currently building a sprawling plastics manufacturing plant, known as an "ethane cracker," in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

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A child walks from a flooded home after heavy rainfall on May 15, 2006 in Arlington, Massachusetts. Darren McCollester / Getty Images

Researchers found that rainwater in some parts of the U.S. have high levels of toxic chemicals. If the chemicals are found in similar levels in drinking water, it would spur regulatory action, according to The Guardian.

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In a win for public health, the home improvement giant Lowe's announced that it will stop selling carpets and rugs containing toxic PFAS chemicals in the United States and Canada by January 2020. Home Depot recently made a similar commitment, signaling that stores are starting to take this health crisis seriously.

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Sometimes our drinking water systems experience dangerous failures, such as the Flint lead poisoning disaster that made major news beginning in 2014. But outside those headline grabbing crises, how safe is our drinking.

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