Senators demand EPA release results of perfluorinated chemicals study

PARKERSBURG — U.S. senators from Ohio and West Virginia have signed a letter demanding the release of a federal study about the levels of perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water supplies.

A dozen senators on Tuesday sent the letter to Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Secretary Alex Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services seeking the release of the study, of which national news outlets said the EPA has blocked its release because of the public relations problems its disclosure would cause. The study was through the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“We want to express our deep concern with recent news reports that individuals within the United States Environmental Protection Agency are blocking the release of results from a study completed by Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry regarding per- and polyfluouroalkyl substances,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman of Ohio. The other eight were Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Chris VanHollen of Maryland, Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Michael F. Bennet of Colorado, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Bill Nelson of Florida and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) include C8 and its successor GenX used to make Teflon at the Washington Works in Wood County. A science panel created with the original C8 lawsuit against DuPont in Wood County found a probable link between C8 and six diseases in people.

PFAS is used in numerous industry and in firefighting. The study was started last year after concern of contaminated drinking supplies near military bases.

Dr. Paul Brooks, whose company, Brookmar, organized the massive health data collection from about 70,000 residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley for the science panel’s study, questioned why another study was done, saying it was “re-inventing the wheel.”

All the chemicals and their derivations are about the same and have the same health impacts as C8 on people as identified by the science panel, Brooks said. All are dangerous, he said.

“The epidemiology has been done. The links to diseases have been found,” he said.

While bureaucrats are permanent and entrenched in the system, politicians are temporary, either voluntarily leaving office or are not re-elected, Brooks said. Their causes go with them after they leave office, he said.

“They’re not there long enough to see this stuff through,” Brooks said.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry last week said it is preparing a draft Toxicological Profile for PFAS for public comment. It will include minimal risk levels.

A release date has not been determined for the next public comment period.

The study, according to the senators, shows the level of exposure that is a danger to human health is lower than previously known.

“Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins,” the letter said.


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