Critical Oversight in EPA's PFAS Rules: Ignoring a Key Contaminant Source

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Critical Oversight in EPA’s PFAS Rules: Ignoring a Key Contaminant Source — A recent study conducted by |

Forever chemicals, scientifically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances , are a group of persistent pollutants that pose significant environmental and health risks. These chemicals are called “forever” because they do not break down naturally and can persist in the environment for centuries. Their widespread use in various industries, coupled with their persistence and potential toxicity, has raised serious concerns about their long-term impact on ecosystems and human health.

PFAS compounds come in two forms: a precursor form and a terminal form. Most of the monitored PFAS compounds are terminal compounds. The EPA’s draft drinking water rules are for six terminal compounds that do not degrade under normal environmental conditions. Precursor compounds can be transformed through biological or environmental processes into terminal forms. There are many precursor compounds, most of which are not routinely monitored, and none are currently regulated.

Much of the PFAS at military sites consists of precursors that are omitted from standard analytical methods. Using a method previously developed in the Sunderland lab that captures all precursors in AFFF, the Harvard team modeled the expected duration and contribution of those precursors to groundwater contamination.

 

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