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EPA: 'Forever chemicals' harm health at lower levels than previously thought

Vice President Kamala Harris (R) and EPA Administrator Michael Regan (L), seen during a roundtable discussion about the removal of Newark, New Jersey's lead water pipes Feb. 11, 2022. The EPA Wednesday issued new warnings that PFAS in water can have adverse health impacts from much lower PFAS levels than previously thought. File Photo by Justin Lane/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/95a827751c74ac5e12a9892d29560f05/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Vice President Kamala Harris (R) and EPA Administrator Michael Regan (L), seen during a roundtable discussion about the removal of Newark, New Jersey's lead water pipes Feb. 11, 2022. The EPA Wednesday issued new warnings that PFAS in water can have adverse health impacts from much lower PFAS levels than previously thought. File Photo by Justin Lane/UPI | License Photo

June 15 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday issued updated health advisories on synthetic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or "forever chemicals," warning they cause negative health effects at much lower levels than previously thought.

"The updated advisory levels, which are based on new science and consider lifetime exposure, indicate that some negative health effects may occur with concentrations of PFOA or PFOS in water that are near zero and below EPA's ability to detect at this time," the EPA said in a statement.

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People concerned about PFAS levels in drinking water should consider installing a home or point-of-use filter.

EPA also invited states and territories that need money to address PFAS and other contaminants in water to apply for part of the $1 billion now available from the Biden administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

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"People on the front-lines of PFAS contamination have suffered for far too long. That's why EPA is taking aggressive action as part of a whole-of-government approach to prevent these chemicals from entering the environment and to help protect concerned families from this pervasive challenge," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in the EPA's statement

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These new EPA PFAS health advisories replace those issued in 2016.

The EPA said it's moving forward with proposing a National Drinking Water Regulation this fall. The agency is evaluating additional chemicals as it develops the proposed rule.

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The EPA said the Biden-Harris administration is using a whole of government approach to "confronting these emerging contaminants."

That includes increased FDA testing for PFAS in food and packaging, efforts by the Department of Agriculture to help dairy farmers deal with contamination of livestock and Defense Department work to clean up contaminated military installations.

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in April of 2021 to set a national drinking water standard for PFAS.

RELATED EPA unveils plan to regulate, restrict toxic 'forever chemicals'

PFAS chemicals are used in a variety of industrial processes. They have been linked to cancer and other health problems and the are accumulating in municipal drinking water across the United States.

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