Quantcast

'Public Relations Nightmare' Toxic Chemical Report Finally Released by CDC

Popular
Pexels

A report with frightening consequences for American drinking water that the Trump administration tried to suppress was finally released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wednesday, ProPublica reported.


The report was the most in-depth look to date at the health impacts of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, chemicals used in a variety of products from Teflon to carpets to fire-fighting foam that have been found in public drinking water and around military bases. The report concluded that the chemicals pose a greater risk to human health than previously thought—for one chemical, it recommends exposure limits 10 times lower than those currently set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and for another it recommends exposure limits seven times lower, according to ProPublica.

In May, POLITICO published January emails between white house aids and EPA staffers expressing concern that the report would be a "public relations nightmare."

"The impact to EPA and [Department of Defense (DOD)] is going to be extremely painful," an email from an anonymous White House aide said.

Nearly six months after the emails were sent, the report was published on the CDC website by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and will be announced in the Federal Register Thursday.

Health risks associated with PFAS include cancer, liver disease, fertility problems, thyroid issues and asthma, the report found. The report also noted that extremely low, daily doses of the substances had had an impact on mice and rats in the laboratory. Newborns had had trouble opening their eyes, and the substances had decreased the animals' weight and changed their bone structure and brain activity.

A day before the report was released, the EPA announced the first "Community Engagement" event to discuss PFAS management in Exeter, New Hampshire for June 25 and 26.

"We are listening to the public's concerns and bringing key stakeholders together to improve our understanding of these chemicals. EPA drinking water experts, research scientists, and regional officials will attend and speak at this event to ensure the public understands what we know and what we're doing," the announcement said.

A PFAS National Leadership Summit, held by the EPA in Washington, DC in May, attracted controversy when reporters from CNN, E&E News and the Associated Press were blocked from attending.

At the summit, EPA head Scott Pruitt announced the agency would look into the need for a "maximum contaminant level" for PFOA and PFOS, the two most common PFAS, begin the process of proposing listing PFOA and PFOS as "hazardous substances," set up a plan for cleaning groundwater of PFOA and PFOS by the fall and determine toxicity values for PFAS-related chemicals GenX and PFBS by the summer.

There is growing concern about PFAS exposure as a Harvard 2016 study found that 6 million Americans get drinking water from sources that exceed current EPA guidelines for the chemicals. The study released Wednesday indicates that more people are likely impacted, ProPublica reported, since it recommends even lower safety thresholds.

The problem is especially prevalent on or around military bases, where the DOD told congress this year that 126 or more nearby drinking water systems are contaminated, according to ProPublica.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less
Electric towers during golden hour. Pixabay / Pexels

An international group of scientists released a report today detailing how the fossil fuel industry actively campaigned to sow doubt about the climate crisis and what steps need to be taken to undo the damage, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less