Waterkeeper Alliance is responding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of its latest plan for controlling PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) discharges under the Clean Water Act in United States waterways. Shared nine months after the agency’s self-imposed deadline, the Alliance is disappointed by EPA’s failure to urgently address the PFAS crisis at the scale required to adequately protect public health and the environment.
The release of EPA’s plan coincides with a new study that analyzed multiple years of PFAS data on fish in U.S. waters, including the Great Lakes. This study found that the median amounts of PFAS in freshwater fish were 280 times greater than those detected in some commercially caught and sold fish tested by the FDA—raising environmental justice concerns as many people depend on freshwater fish as a more affordable protein source. The analysis also found higher levels in the Great Lakes where the median level of total PFAS was 11,800 nanograms per kilogram compared to a median level of 9,500 nanograms per kilogram in other U.S. waters that were tested. This more detailed study dovetails with findings from Waterkeeper Alliance’s extensive analysis that found 83 percent of the surface waters tested across the United States were found to be contaminated by dangerous PFAS chemicals. Together, this data plainly demonstrates that EPA must act with urgency to control persistent PFAS contamination across the country and that the Great Lakes must be a high priority for federal action.
Below is a statement from Kelly Hunter Foster, Senior Attorney, Waterkeeper Alliance:
“Just last week, a new study found extremely high levels of PFAS in freshwater fish from U.S. waters including the Great Lakes, revealing that eating one serving of freshwater fish per year is equivalent to a month of drinking water contaminated with these harmful “forever” chemicals. As we continue to learn more about the impacts that PFAS have on public health and the environment, it is abundantly clear that we need the strongest federal safeguards possible in order to effectively address the scale of the issue and protect our communities and waters. While we are encouraged to see that EPA is making progress toward stopping PFAS pollution at the source, their latest plan falls short of truly meeting the urgency of this crisis. The agency must do more to protect the health and safety of our communities, waters, and environment.”