EPA Region 10 supports Pacific Northwest and Alaskan efforts to identify and reduce toxic threats
SEATTLE (July 29,2020)— Aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) continues to be an active and ongoing priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA has made significant progress implementing the PFAS Action Plan—a comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical-of-concern that has appeared in ground and drinking water across the country. This “all hands” effort is helping EPA, states, tribes, and local communities target PFAS reductions and protect public health.
“With federal technical assistance efforts underway across the country, the Trump Administration is bringing much needed support to state, tribal, and local governments as part of the agency’s unprecedented efforts under the PFAS Action Plan,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These partnerships allow for collaboration, encourage cutting edge research, and information sharing—ensuring that our joint efforts are effective and protective of public health.”
According to Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, EPA is lending technical expertise and scientific resources to help states and local jurisdictions tackle challenges in the campaign to identify and address potential threats to groundwater and drinking water from PFAS and PFOA.
“We’re happy to provide some extra scientific ‘horsepower’ in the effort to protect public health,” said EPA’s Hladick. “When our state and local partners need a little extra capacity or expertise, we’re honored to deliver that support. Our partnership with states and other federal agencies has furthered national research aimed at better understanding PFAS and PFOA and how to protect our drinking water.”
In the Pacific Northwest and Alaska:
- EPA Region 10 has convened bimonthly state and federal agency PFAS coordination calls to help share the latest research and regulatory developments around PFAS. The calls feature EPA PFAS researchers and other experts as guests and focus attention where it makes the most strategic sense. For example, participants discuss contamination hotspots, trends in drinking water research and new toxicity data. The bimonthly forum also offers a “real time” idea exchange and problem-solving platform.
- EPA is delivering technical assistance to the North Slope Borough (NSB) and Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope (ICAS) in analyzing PFAS in Imikpuk Lake near the native village of Utqiaġvik. With the help of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, a study plan was developed and shared with the project partners (North Star Borough, ICAS, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, and University of Alaska). The lake (near the former site of the Naval Arctic Research Lab and airstrip) was tested for PFAS by the Navy in 2017 and PFOA and PFOS levels were found to be above EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory level. EPA scientists have begun analyzing Lake water, sediment and fish samples previously collected by the University.
So far, partner feedback on the Regional approach has been decidedly positive. When asked for her impression of the value offered by the bi monthly PFAS coordination call, Barbara Morrissey, a toxicologist with the Washington State Department of Health, issued a favorable review.
“The PFAS coordination by EPA Region 10 has been very helpful in sharing our approaches and activities with our neighboring states, Morrissey said. “As questions come up, Region 10 has been fantastic at bringing in speakers from EPA ORD, Office of Water, and TSCA to keep us informed about the latest EPA tools and research.”
EPA’s regional actions complement the efforts being made to address PFAS nationwide. In July alone, EPA has made significant progress implementing the PFAS Action Plan—the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, facilities using PFAS in production of other products, airports, and military installations are some of the contributors of PFAS releases into the air, soil, and water. Due to their widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. There is evidence that continued exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.
As part of EPA’s aggressive efforts to address these risks, the agency issued the PFAS Action Plan in February 2019. The Action Plan is the agency’s first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS. The plan responds to the extensive public input the agency received during the PFAS National Leadership Summit, multiple community engagements and through the public docket. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the processes and tools EPA is using to develop to assess the PFAS risk and assist states, tribes and communities in addressing their unique situations.
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