Read the full article by Emily DiFrisco (Center for Environmental Health)
“WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA – Six North Carolina community and environmental justice groups are ‘deeply disappointed’ by EPA’s ‘inadequate’ response yesterday to their petition asking the Agency to require Chemours to conduct a critical epidemiological study and health toxicity testing on 54 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are putting hundreds of thousands of North Carolina residents at risk. Petitioners said they are considering all options, including litigation, to challenge EPA’s decision.
The six groups are: Center for Environmental Health, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, the NC Black Alliance, and Toxic Free NC. The testing petition, filed October 14, 2020, asked EPA to require Chemours to fund a comprehensive research program addressing the concerns of Cape Fear communities who have been exposed for decades to numerous PFAS in their drinking water, air, food, and soil because of pollution from the Chemours facility in Fayetteville. Several of these compounds are also present in the blood of North Carolina residents, yet little or no government-backed health data are currently available that would shed light on the harm these communities, and others like them, across the U.S. have suffered.
EPA’s petition response did not announce any new studies on the 54 PFAS. It said it would require limited testing on 7 of the 54 PFAS, but this testing had previously been announced in October under EPA’s general PFAS testing strategy. In declining to require testing on additional PFAS produced by Chemours, EPA claimed it could determine their health effects by extrapolating from studies it plans to require on 24 ‘representative’ substances under its testing strategy. This highly theoretical and unproven approach, which is based on complex computational models, rejects the recommendations of petitioners, more than 120 public health organizations, and dozens of leading scientists that EPA should focus testing on those PFAS that directly threaten human health.
Simply put, EPA has had over a year to review the many letters and submissions of petitioners explaining the concerns of North Carolina communities but has completely missed the entire purpose of the petition–to address the public health needs of a severely contaminated community. Instead, the EPA asserts it is ‘granting’ the petition but in fact is deferring action on petitioners’ testing requests indefinitely.”…