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EPA Might as Well Be Telling Millions with Contaminated Water: 'Drink Up, Folks'

January 29, 2019 - 6:00am

The Trump administration will not set legal limits for two toxic chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, that may contaminate more than 110 million Americans’ drinking water, including the drinking water of millions of Floridians, according to Washington, D.C. sources familiar with the upcoming decision. 

The worst contamination occurs near sites where firefighters have trained with an aqueous film-forming foam.

In his confirmation hearing last month, Andrew Wheeler, acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee the agency would announce plans soon to address the widespread contamination of the nation’s tap water with the compounds PFOA and PFOS. The two chemicals, which have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease and weakened childhood immunity, are the best-known members of the family of highly fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.

But Politico Pro’s Annie Snider reported Monday via the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Working Group (EWG) that, according to her sources, Wheeler will not move to regulate any of the PFAS family of chemicals by setting a legal limit, known as a maximum contaminant level, under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

“If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: ‘Drink up, folks.” said EWG Senior Scientist David Andrews, Ph.D.

These are the same cancer-causing chemicals found in high concentrations underground near Florida State Fire College in Ocala, in the city of Stuart, in Satellite Beach and other cities -- and on military bases around the Sunshine State.
The city of Stuart is moving quickly to protect citizens, having first taken the contaminated wells offline and installed a specialized filter. Stuart commissioners aren't waiting until people get sick, they're working proactively to find a deep, safe alternative water source. But here's the rub: The complete fix in this one small Florida city is estimated at $16 million to drill more and deeper wells. 

“The most efficient and equitable way to remove these chemicals from the nation’s drinking water supply is to use the agency’s authority to set legal limits,” said Andrews. “It’s a national problem, and it needs a national solution. Anything short of that is window dressing.”

The agency has dragged its feet on setting legal limits for PFOA and PFOS for almost 20 years. The EPA’s tests have detected PFAS pollution in the public water supplies of 16 million Americans in 33 states, but that is considered a severe underestimate of the scope of the problem.

EWG and researchers at Northeastern University have tracked 172 PFAS contamination sites in 40 states. Drawing on unreleased data from the EPA tests, EWG estimates that water supplies for as many as 110 million Americans may be contaminated.  

The growing PFAS crisis found support in Congress last week on both sides of the aisle when Republicans and Democrats in the House formed a PFAS Task Force to address the urgent drinking water contamination crisis caused by these toxic fluorinated chemicals.

Meanwhile, freshman state Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City, an environmental scientist, submitted an appropriations request two weeks ago for $16 million longterm for but $2 million immediately to engineer, permit and drill the new wells in Stuart. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is looking at the statewide problem now.


The unfortunate fact is that people and the companies they run no longer do things because they are right or because of the golden rule, they base all decisions on finances. That is why we need regulations and lawyers to file lawsuits. People forgot there is a God who expects us to care for one another and the earth upon which we live.

Submitted by Robert Warner on January 29, 2019 - 10:05am Think you might qualify your general use of the term "EPA". It's known, more appropriately, as the "Trump/Tea Party/Koch Bro's EPA". As you sat on your toilet and wrote this did you flush your toilet with water or did you fish out your poop and some how make it magically disappear or did you compost it in your garden after testing it for heavy metals to make sure it was safe. My bet is that as the limousine liberal that you are you flushed your troubles away. Typical hypocrite that you are you blame others. How come one of your billionaire liberal hypocrites was not listed in your cute little name.... maybe like Bill Gates who's family probably has 20 toilets that use water in their homes. Are your wheels spinning in your head yet ????

Just what we need - MORE FEDERAL REGULATIONS! Hurray for Trump. Every water supplier in every state knows what is in their water (some, even down to the County level). This is a LOCAL ISSUE. Thank you, President Trump!

perfluorooctanic acid, perfluorooctanic sulornic acid Maybe the companies that used the acids should have to pay for the clean up if it can be cleaned up. Dupont's Teflon , 3 m scotchguard, makers of carpets, clothing, fabric for furniture and cook ware. Where our friend on one comment blamed the Tea Party , Trump etc., indicates to me that one must do their research before sticking their foot in their mouths? Only saying!

The current Republican administration and its asinine 'de-regulation mentality' at work! Peninsular Florida coastal counties should probably start planning for de-salinization plants, if they haven't done so already, because clean water to drink is getting scarcer and scarcer while these counties are promoting more and more unchecked development.

Uh? Unchecked illegal immigration is a cause of unchecked development but I guess you don't want to point that out. Just trying to show you the way Bluehoo.

Good inexpensive water filters are available in every department store in the country. We are already regulated to death....

Most of the time when regulations are set they overkill it and make it miserable and EXPENSIVE for everyone to follow them.

Long ago, we were warned never to drink tap water in Mexico or other poor countries around the world.. now I guess America is now included. Go to a clean water store near you.. Pay 40 cents a gallon of drinking water .. or get yourself water jugs at your local grocery store.. Just stop bitchin' about your unsafe tap water.. Tap water is for bathing and gardening not for drinking these days.. our water is safe enough .. We are running out of clean water and we are better off investing in adding water reserves than to make it safe for drinking through questionable aging pipes, anyway.

Think you might qualify your general use of the term "EPA". It's known, more appropriately, as the "Trump/Tea Party/Koch Bro's EPA".

We don't need the Federal Government to do this! This can and should be handled at a State level! Why do the Democratic Socialists always want the Federal Government to step in? The EPA shouldn't exist under the Constitution. This is a State issue not a Federal issue.

This is just a stupid lack of oversight... If the EPA will not do this. Why do they even exist? It is unacceptable...

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