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PFAS News Roundup: Pennsylvania sets regulations, judge says Wisconsin DNR can’t regulate, Chemours uses climate change to defend PFAS

PFAS News Roundup: Pennsylvania sets regulations, judge says Wisconsin DNR can’t regulate, Chemours uses climate change to defend PFAS
April 13, 2022 Natasha Blakely

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:

Michigan:

The Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act would deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration funding for commercial airports to purchase devices necessary to test their firefighting equipment, without discharging toxic PFAS chemicals.

PFAS compounds, the emerging contaminant “forever chemicals” raising public health and environmental alarms, are found in greater quantities in the treated water leaving Michigan wastewater treatment plants — the water returning to streams, rivers and lakes — than in the not-yet-treated water entering the plant, a new Western Michigan University study found.

Minnesota:

3M has faced an avalanche of lawsuits and regulatory actions over PFAS but only once has a plant been forced to stop producing the controversial chemicals.

That 3M plant in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, has now been partially closed — by government edict — for five months, crimping 3M’s sales to the semiconductor, data center and automotive industries.

And no easy remedy is in the sight for the Maplewood-based industrial giant.

Pennsylvania:

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection recently proposed a new regulation that would set MCLs for two PFAS compounds—18 parts per trillion (ppt) for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and 14 ppt for perfluorooctanoic acid.

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Oconomowoc-based dry cleaner Leather Rich filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, DNR Secretary Preston Cole and the Natural Resources Board in February 2021.

WMC and Leather Rich argued the DNR didn’t have explicit authority to require businesses to address PFAS pollution under two environmental cleanup programs without standards for the chemicals. The DNR has argued the state’s spills law gives the agency broad authority to require testing and cleanup of the chemicals.

The authority of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources to regulate PFAS “forever chemicals” that have contaminated drinking water was blocked on Tuesday. Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren ruled that the DNR cannot regulate PFAS and other emerging toxic compounds under Wisconsin’s Spills Law. If allowed to stand, the ruling defangs the state’s protection against PFAS contamination, an emerging toxic threat to many communities.

National:

Chemours has offered a novel argument in defense of one of its toxic PFAS chemicals, known as GenX: that the compound, which causes cancer and other health effects in lab animals and was released by the company into the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of people, is necessary for the fight against climate change.

New research from Macquarie University and Fire Rescue Victoria has found that the concentration of PFAS in a person’s blood can be reduced if that person regularly donates blood or plasma.

The Environmental Protection Agency department responsible for protecting the public from toxic substances is working under a new definition of PFAS “forever chemicals” that excludes some of their widely used compounds.

The new “working definition”, established by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, is not only at odds with much of the scientific world, but is narrower than that used by other EPA departments.

Among other uses, the narrower definition excludes chemicals in pharmaceuticals and pesticides that are generally defined as PFAS.

A federal roadmap for addressing PFAS chemicals calls for more cleanup work in the United States. You might say a water treatment technology company called Aclarity is taking a different path: destroying the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS, using a proprietary electrochemical process.

Virtually indestructible, these artificial compounds are used in fast-food packaging and countless household items, but they have been found as far away as virgin forests.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

PFAS is a widespread problem. The solution needs to come from widespread sources

Small portions: Michigan puts PFAS advisory on Lake Superior rainbow smelt


Featured image: The former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda, Michigan is responsible for PFAS in groundwater in nearby communities. (Great Lakes Now Episode 1025)

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