The US Environmental Protection Agency on Monday unveiled a new strategy to regulate PFAS, or so-called toxic “forever chemicals,” which are linked to a number of health conditions and used in countless consumer products.

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EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced a series of actions to limit pollution from a group of long-lasting chemicals that are increasingly leaching into public drinking water systems, private wells and even food. The initiative aims to prevent PFAS from being released into the environment, accelerate the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites such as military bases, and engage in research to learn more about where PFASs are found and how to prevent their spread. To increase investment.

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“For too long, families across America—particularly in disadvantaged communities—have suffered from PFAS in their water, their air, or the land where their children play,” says Regan. said in a statement. “This comprehensive, national PFAS strategy will provide protection to those who are hurt by taking bold and concrete actions that address the full life cycle of these chemicals.”

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He added: “There’s no doubt that the EPA is listening, we have your back, and we are laser focused on protecting people from pollution and holding polluters accountable.”

PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they last for so long in the environment. They have been associated with serious health conditions, including cancer and low birth weight.

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are used in nonstick frying pans, water-repellent sports gear, stain-resistant rugs, fire extinguishing foams and many other products. The chemical bonds are so strong that they do not degrade or do so only slowly in the environment and remain in a person’s bloodstream indefinitely.

A study published earlier this year found that More than half of cosmetics are sold in the US and Canada Contained fluorine – an indicator of PFAS. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that this was true for 56% of foundation and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascara.

Under the new strategy, the EPA will move to set aggressive drinking water limits for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and require PFAS manufacturers to report how toxic their products are.

The EPA is also moving to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the so-called Superfund law that allows the EPA to pay for cleanup work to companies responsible for pollution or to do it themselves.

The regulatory strategy comes as Congress considers comprehensive legislation to establish national drinking water standards for certain PFAS chemicals and clean up contaminated sites nationwide, including military bases, where high rates of PFAS have been discovered.

Legislation passed by the House would establish a national drinking water standard for PFAS and direct the EPA to develop discharge limits for a range of industries suspected of releasing PFAS in water. The bill is stalled in the Senate.

FULLERton, CA – JULY 01: Pressure vessels containing ion exchange resin media that filter PFAS at a new water treatment plant along Kimberly Avenue in Fullerton, CA. The plant is used to remove PFAS, a family of chemicals used for waterproofing

Regan, a former North Carolina environmental regulator who took over as EPA chief in March, said he saw firsthand how dangerous PFAS can be in his home state.

As North Carolina’s top environmental official, Regan led negotiations that resulted in the cleanup of the Cape Fear River, which has been dangerously contaminated by PFAS industrial compounds that are manufacturing run by a spinoff of chemical giant DuPont. were issued from the plant for decades.

“I spent time with families in their communities, talking to them about the fears and concerns they had as they prepared to announce EPA actions Monday at a news conference in Raleigh,” Regan told the Associated Press. I spent time. Talking to mothers who were concerned about potential long-term effects on their babies, caregivers who were wondering whether their loved ones’ incurable diseases were linked” to PFAS release from the Fayetteville Works Plant.

“So there’s a real sense of urgency,” he said. “And in North Carolina, we went ahead. We followed the law and the science and we held the polluters accountable.”

Still, he said the state would be in a stronger position “if the federal government were a better, stronger partner.”

Regan said that under his leadership the EPA has “done more in eight months” on PFAS than in the previous administration.

Officials expect a proposed rule on PFAS in drinking water by 2023, Regan said.

“We are going to move as quickly as possible to set these safe drinking water limits,” he said.

Action on PFAS “will not be taken on the back of the American people,” Regan said. “We are holding polluters accountable, and we are using the fullest extent of our statutory authority to ensure that they pay for what they do. ‘We did.'”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper was set to join officials for Monday’s announcement.

“This roadmap commits the EPA to setting enforceable drinking water limits for these chemicals, as well as giving communities stronger tools to protect people’s health and the environment,” Cooper said in a statement. “As we continue to partner with the EPA on this and other important efforts, the bipartisan infrastructure deal and larger budget resolution will provide significant support by devoting significant resources to addressing PFAS contamination.”

related: Toxic ‘Forever chemicals’ found in half of US makeup, study finds

This was reported from Cincinnati.