"The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced what officials called a historic effort to rein in a class of long-lasting chemicals that pose serious health risks to millions of Americans. But environmental groups and residents of contaminated communities said that the agency’s “action plan” is short on action, saying ample evidence exists to regulate the chemicals in the nation’s drinking water.
The EPA promised in the spring to devise a plan to address the widespread contamination caused by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, which have been detected in numerous communities and military bases. The agency’s leader at the time, Scott Pruitt, called the problem “a national emergency.”
The manmade chemicals have long been used in consumer products, including water-repellent fabrics, nonstick cookware and grease-resistant paper products, as well as in firefighting foams. Long-term exposures have been associated with health problems that include thyroid disease, weakened immunity, infertility risks and certain cancers. Because PFAS do not break down in the environment, they have become known as “forever chemicals.”"