Law loophole lets 600 toxic chemicals skip an inspection in U.S.

According to a petition filed today, there is a flaw in the federal government’s procedures for checking new toxic chemicals. It has allowed at least 600 so-called forever chemicals to enter American markets despite evidence that they pose serious health risks.

A coalition of environmental and community health advocates petitioned the United States Environmental Protection Agency. They claim that the agency exempts some new chemicals from more rigorous review. When the usage of such chemicals is less likely in large quantities they will skip the rigorous review. It has allowed hundreds of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to escape detection, posing a cumulative health risk.

Toxic chemicals pose a serious health risk

PFAS can cause cancer, immune system damage, cardiovascular disease, and developmental diseases. Nonstick coatings, carpets, and firefighting foams have traces of PFAS.

The EPA released a warning in June, stating that even water with trace amounts of PFAS can be hazardous to human health. The agency released its first order under its national PFAS testing strategy. It aims to increase available data on the chemicals’ prevalence. The EPA announced in August that it will propose designating two of the chemicals as hazardous substances under the nation’s Superfund law. They hope of sparking the cleanup of numerous sites and industrial facilities.

If the EPA is serious about addressing the PFAS crisis, it must immediately remove all PFAS approved under erroneous exemptions from the market, Eve Gartner, a managing attorney at Earthjustice said. She represents the coalition.

First, check it, then let it on the shelves

According to petitioners, the EPA has an obligation by the Toxic Substances Control Act to thoroughly examine new chemicals. That is an utmost obligation prior to the products ending up on American shelves. Exclusions for low volumes, low releases, and low exposures of new chemicals are not acceptable. The groups request the EPA to withdraw approvals for those chemicals and perform detailed reviews. This is in line with the Biden administration’s previous claims that PFAS is a serious concern.

PFAS has been discovered in dangerous concentrations in food, soil, and drinking water sources across the United States in recent years. Furthermore, they are the subject of an increasing number of lawsuits filed against manufacturers. The other name of these chemicals is “forever chemicals”. It is because they stay long in the human body and the environment.

Litigation is ongoing across the nation to figure out who will compensate for the removal process of the chemicals. This includes the filtering systems, which one California community estimates will cost $1 billion. According to the latest study, the bad news is that at least 57,000 locations across the U.S. are already polluted.