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white light, white heat © Robert Sommers 2018

Friday, May 25, 2018

Teflon Don

I have been writing about PFAS compounds for a long time. You might want to reread a very long winded article I wrote in 2015, Over persistent three eyed frogs and geologic time for a primer on the subject.

 If you can get through it you will see that these poly- and perfluoroalkyl Substances have lots of pernicious affects on humans and the environment. They also don't break down in what we consider to be a geologic timeframe. Exposure to these compounds has been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, immune system problems and many other ailments.

These chemicals are in lots of materials that we humans use on a daily basis and are key components in Teflon. It is estimated that over 20% of the water supply in this country now contains these chemicals, maybe as high as 28%.
Internal documents revealed DuPont had long known that C8, also known as PFOA, caused cancer, had poisoned drinking water in the mid-Ohio River Valley and polluted the blood of people and animals worldwide. But the company never told its workers, local officials and residents, state regulators or the EPA. After the truth came out, research by federal officials and public interest groups, including EWG, found that the blood of almost all Americans was contaminated with PFCs, which passed readily from mothers to unborn babies in the womb. 
Due to EPA slow walking and industry chicanery, which is not solely the fault of the present administration, these chemicals have never been properly regulated. The Trump administration is poised to put the final nail in the coffin of ever regulating them. Now their behavior is finally starting to make sense.

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The administration barred mainstream reporters from an environmental summit on these chemicals this week.

Now the chemical industry appears to have been playing a sleight of hand game here, wanting any regulation to be limited to what is known as "legacy" chemicals but not the short chain relatives that they have conveniently stuck in their place but which many scientists maintain pose a near equal if not equal risk.

EPA head Scott Pruitt and the Trump Administration is obviously getting its marching orders from industry. And the recent decision to not allow peer reviewed studies to be taken into consideration means that the chemical companies are now effectively running the show.
Pruitt's controversial science “transparency” proposal would also make it difficult for the EPA to publish a strong regulation, green advocates say.
The proposal, among other changes, would require that any scientific findings the EPA uses for regulating be based on data that is available to the public and reproducible.
Epidemiological studies, like those examining the effects of contaminants, often rely on personal data that researchers agree to keep private, and they can’t be reproduced since they only happen once.
That would make it difficult for the EPA to use some of the most consequential studies on PFAS, advocates say. 
You throw out all evidence that these chemicals are already impacting human health,” Andrews said, pointing to research from the major PFOA spill in West Virginia in 2014 as an example. 
The implications could be enormous in terms of ignoring the significant amounts of scientific data that these chemicals are already impacting health.

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