Read the full article by Dino Grandoni (The Washington Post)

“For decades, Sandy Wynn-Stelt looked at the Christmas tree farm across the street from her home in western Michigan with delight. ‘How idyllic is that,’ she said. ‘That’s about as quintessential Michigan as you could get.’

Only in recent years did she learn of the toxic ‘time bomb that nobody knew was sitting’ on the land underneath those trees.

Her town of Belmont is one of hundreds across the country contaminated with an omnipresent batch of dangerous chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. On Friday, the Biden administration proposed to classify two of the most common of these chemical compounds, which can persist in the environment for years, as hazardous substances.

The long-awaited move from the Environmental Protection Agency is meant to spark the cleanup of scores of sites defiled by industrial compounds and make the public more aware of their presence. Used to make everyday products such as nonstick cookware, cosmetics, fabrics and food packaging, these types of chemicals pervade drinking water used by millions of Americans — and they’ve been linked to an array of illnesses, including cardiovascular problems and low birth weights.

‘It’s a very significant step,’ EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a phone interview. The proposed rule ‘requires the polluter to pay for violating the law.’

Still, people living near toxic waste and their advocates say the federal government under multiple administrations has been painfully slow to act, even as the health risks of PFAS become ever clearer.” …