This video is a part of our collection “The Numbers That Outlined 2022.”
Maggie Koerth: I’ve two necessary numbers for you this yr. Some excellent news. And a few dangerous information.
First, there’s 4 … That’s the variety of dangerous per- and polyfluorinated chemical substances, or PFAS, that the Environmental Safety Company launched new focus pointers for this yr. That is the excellent news.
Then, there’s 4 thousand seven hundred … That’s roughly the variety of totally different PFAS chemical substances on the market, globally. They’re current in hundreds of merchandise you purchase and use. They’re even in your consuming water. And this whole class of chemical substances, together with those developed to be “safer” replacements, have more and more been proven to be harmful to human well being.
PFAS are an issue that date again to your grandma’s day. They have been invented through the Nice Melancholy and have been utilized in non-stick coatings on merchandise like pots and pans because the Nineteen Forties. Since then, they’ve develop into a part of how we make waterproof and stain-resistant materials and carpets, fire-fighting foam, cleansing merchandise, paint, meals packaging and extra.
However these “ceaselessly chemical substances” don’t break down. They only construct up within the surroundings. And within the early 2000s, scientists began discovering these chemical substances in soil and water … and, finally, in human blood.
To place it mildly … this isn’t good. Only a few components per trillion in consuming water have been linked to all kinds of well being points, from thyroid and immune response issues, to excessive ldl cholesterol, to testicular most cancers. This summer season, the Nationwide Academies of Sciences reported that just about one hundred pc of People have been uncovered.
Regardless of all of this … or perhaps, behind all of this … is the truth that PFAS aren’t effectively regulated. The EPA didn’t even have pointers for what a suitable focus of PFAS in consuming water may be till 2016. At the moment, they mentioned that 70 components per trillion was a suitable quantity of PFAS to search out in water provides. Now they’ve dropped that by greater than a thousandfold. Scientists aren’t positive they even have the instruments to measure PFAS at that stage.
The EPA is within the course of of making the primary federally enforceable laws round two PFAS chemical substances. That’s prone to occur in 2023. And particular person states are taking motion too. By 2030, new merchandise containing any PFAS in any respect will probably be unlawful within the state of Maine.
And issues are altering on the business stage too. 3M, the corporate that first developed and nonetheless is the unique producer of a few of these chemical substances, has mentioned they’ll cease making PFAS by 2025.
So the publication of unenforceable pointers protecting 4 out of 4000 plus chemical substances is just the start. We’re at the beginning of a severe shift in how the general public – and the federal government – take into consideration PFAS.
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