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PFAS News Roundup: Companies hid dangers from FDA, professor documents stories, study shows high levels in fertilizer

PFAS News Roundup: Companies hid dangers from FDA, professor documents stories, study shows high levels in fertilizer
June 4, 2021 Noah Bock

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country. 

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area. 

Click on the headline to read the full story: 

Illinois: 

A bill to ban burning PFAS chemicals passed the General Assembly over the Memorial Day weekend. It was awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature as of Tuesday and would go into immediate effect. 

Southwestern Illinoisans who live with poor air quality have raised concerns for years that an incinerator in Sauget operated by hazardous waste disposal company Veolia could burn PFAS, which is found in common household items and in firefighting foam used by the Air Force to extinguish aviation fuel fires. 

Indiana:

Drinking water treatment officials now have new ways to treat nearly a dozen PFAS compounds.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency updated its Drinking Water Treatability Database with treatment options and scientific references for 11 toxic PFAS chemicals, bringing the total to 38.

Michigan: 

Dani DeVasto, a Grand Valley State University writing professor, is recording the stories of people affected by PFAS chemicals turning up in private wells, sludge from wastewater treatment plants and even food. The project, “Living with PFAS” will be archived and preserved digitally in the western Michigan school’s special collections and archives. 

New York: 

A study that measured levels of PFAS in the blood of Newburgh area residents showed they had high levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies that likely came from the city’s past water source. 

The exposure test, which only observed the amount of PFAS in samples of people’s blood and urine, will inform a larger, multi-site national study of health effects associated with PFAS. 

Pennsylvania:  

The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office has filed a civil complaint against dozens of chemical manufacturers for what it says is the companies’ role in contaminating local fire facilities with PFAS, known as “forever chemicals,” with some levels thousands of times in excess of federal guidelines.

Wisconsin: 

With its former chairman refusing to give up his seat, Wisconsin’s natural resources policy board approved the first steps Wednesday toward establishing limits on more harmful chemicals in water. 

The Natural Resources Board voted 6-1 to approve preliminary hearings required to begin setting ground and drinking water standards for PFAS compounds and other substances that state health officials have said are hazardous to human health. 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are working on a more efficient way to track PFAS contamination. Yin Wang, who is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is working on the development of a new passive sampling technology.  

Passive sampling for PFAS is different than what is typically done now — testing now includes gathering water and checking for the PFAS present at that time. This passive test would stay in water and monitor PFAS concentrations over time, capturing spikes in the chemical.  

National: 

Sewage sludge that wastewater treatment districts across America package and sell as home fertilizer contain alarming levels of toxic PFAS. 

Sludge, which is lightly treated and marketed as “biosolids”, is used by consumers to fertilize home gardens, and the PFAS levels raise concerns that the chemicals are contaminating vegetables and harming those who eat them. 

Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration, company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal. 

The chemicals, called 6:2 FTOH, are now linked to a range of serious health issues, and Americans are still being exposed to them in greaseproof pizza boxes, carryout containers, fast-food wrappers, and paperboard packaging. 

The PFAS Action Act would, among other things, require creation of a national drinking water standard for various PFAS chemicals. Morgan Lewis environmental attorneys say the act could also significantly accelerate the timeline for classifying certain PFAS compounds as hazardous substances and allows the EPA significant discretion over future PFAS regulation.


Catch up on more PFAS news on Great Lakes Now:

PFAS is in fish and wildlife. Researchers prowl Michigan for clues.

PFAS in the House: Are toxic “forever chemicals” a steady drip in this reporter’s home?

PFAS News Roundup: Michigan governor invokes defense bill, high levels in Minnesota landfills, business lobby sues Wisconsin DNR

PFAS News Roundup: Indiana introduces PFAS bills, Michigan citizens unhappy about 8-month disclosure delay

PFAS Around the Great Lakes Region: Actions taken in each state or province and standards set, if any

The middle of a massive contamination’: Residents of Wisconsin region struggle with aftereffects of dangerous ‘forever chemicals’


Featured image: Pizza boxes (Photo by ms.akr via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

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