drinking water


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What Lessons Should We Learn from the PFAS Crisis?

Lauren Richter, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Rhode Island School of Design; Alissa Cordner, Associate Professor and Paul Garrett Fellow, Whitman College; Phil Brown, University Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Health Science, Northeastern University, , UCS

How a problem is framed often shapes the range of solutions considered. Ubiquitous global contamination by PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), human-synthesized chemicals that are water and grease repellent and found in human blood, drinking water, and wildlife, is a problem that has been framed in a number of ways. While environmental regulation is often framed as driven by scientific knowledge, our research finds that in U.S. the implementation of chemical regulation is more commonly driven by scientific ignorance and corporate malfeasance. Read more >

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AP Photo/Matt Rourke

EPA Might Finally Regulate PFAS But the Process Matters

, Senior Analyst

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS. This decision is based on three criteria: 1) PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health 2) PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern; 3) regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.

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AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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PFAS Contamination at Military Sites Reveals a Need for Urgent Science-based Protections

, Senior Analyst

A new UCS factsheet released today looks at PFAS contamination at military bases, revealing that many of the sites have levels of these chemicals in their drinking or groundwater at potentially unsafe levels. PFAS, or poly- and perfluorinated alkyl substances, have been used in everything from Teflon pans, to nonstick food packaging, to water-repellent raingear for decades. Only recently has it been revealed to the general public that these compounds are seeping into our waterways and causing health issues in people who are exposed to the chemical at elevated levels over time.

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The public water supply in Hyannis, Massachusetts, one of the communities currently dealing PFAS contamination. Photo: A. Fox. Courtesy of STEEP

Federal Health Study on Drinking Water Contaminants Calls into Question Safety of Nation’s Drinking Water Supply

Dr. Laurel Schaider, , UCS

On a late June evening in a high school auditorium in Exeter, NH, dozens of people stepped up to the microphone to tell EPA about contaminated drinking water in their communities. They described unexplained illnesses in their families, expressed frustration about inadequate government response, and shared their guilt and fear about their children’s exposures to toxics and the possible long-term effects. “Years before becoming pregnant, I was educating people on how to eliminate environmental toxics from their personal care products and food. That’s why this was so devastating,” said Alayna Davis, co-founder of a local community group called Testing for Pease. “I could not prevent this water from contaminating my son’s body.”  Read more >

Courtesy of STEEP, photo by A. Fox.
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Photo: US Marines

The Time Has Come for Stronger Investment in Water Infrastructure – Especially for Underserved Communities

Sara Schwartz, , UCS

When news of the Flint water crisis broke headlines, 21 million people across the country relied on water systems that violated health standards. Low-income communities, minority populations, and rural towns disproportionately deal with barriers to safe water. Drinking water challenges are complex: failing infrastructure, polluted water sources, and low capacity utility management are all part of the issue. Read more >

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