Read the full article by Tom Perkins (The Guardian)
“More than 110 scientists and regulators worldwide are raising a public alarm over what they label ‘weak’ PFAS drinking water limits proposed by the World Health Organization, which they charge used shoddy science and “arbitrarily” dismissed hundreds of studies linking the ‘forever chemicals’ to serious health problems.
Some further alleged the process of developing the guidelines was corrupted by industry-aligned consultants aiming to undercut strict new PFAS limits proposed in the US, and weaken standards in the developing world. The chemicals have been called ‘forever chemicals’ due to their longevity in the environment.
The limits would allow far more PFAS in drinking water than what is allowed or proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, most US states, and some agencies within the EU. WHO’s guidelines and justification are ‘inexcusable’, said Linda Birnbaum, a former head of the US National Toxicology Program and EPA scientist.
‘WHO ignored the last 20 years of science, whether it’s epidemiological data, animal data, or experimental data, and they said ‘there’s so much uncertainty that we can’t do anything’,’ she told the Guardian.
Birnbaum was among a group of prominent independent researchers who signed a public letter demanding WHO withdraw or revise the guidelines.
PFAS are a class of about 12,000 chemicals designed to make products resist water, stains and heat. They are used in thousands of consumer products and thought to be contaminating drinking water for more than 200 million people in the US. Independent research links PFAS to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, decreased immunity, kidney disease, higher cholesterol and a range of other serious health effects.
The WHO is proposing drinking water limits of 100 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, two of the most studied PFAS compounds. The letter’s signatories say the level will put human health at risk, and the EPA in June imposed new PFOA and PFOS advisory limits of 0.004 ppt and 0.02 ppt, respectively. The agency is expected to make the limits mandatory in the coming months, and some researchers suspect the WHO is aiming to derail that effort.
The WHO did not respond to a request for comment.
Some independent researchers say evidence suggests industry-connected authors played a large role in developing WHO’s limits and justifications. Among them is Michael Dourson, whom Donald Trump in 2017 nominated to oversee the EPA’s chemical safety division.
He withdrew his name after failing to get enough support in part over his alleged history of producing industry-friendly studies that backed chemical companies’ safety claims, which the Environmental Defense Fund at the time characterized as ‘mercenary science’.
Emails published by the New York Times show his close relationship with the American Chemistry Council, even while he served as an EPA adviser. The emails also showed one of Dourson’s organizations at the University of Cincinnati, where he previously worked, accepted money from the American Chemistry Council and sent a research paper to it for editing, which some labeled an ethical violation.” …