Sustained Outrage

C8 update: Chemical found in N.J. water supply

The good folks at New Jersey Public Television have a new story out about sampling results that found troubling levels of C8 in at least one local water supply.

You can watch correspondent Ed Rodgers’  report online, and here’s a quick summary:

The NJ Department of Environmental Protection has been sampling 31 different public water supplies in New Jersey for the substance called PFOAs. It is the main ingredient in teflon and stain resistance substances. A water sample taken from the Brick Township Municipal Utility Authority was above the NJ guidance level but below the federal standard. DEP officials say they are now conducting follow-up tests on both the raw and finished water that goes to consumers’ homes.

In a somewhat related development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently posted on one of its online dockets a copy of the edits that the White House Office of Management and Budget made to EPA’s “action plan” for dealing with C8 and related perfluorinated chemicals.

Now usually, these sorts of strike-thru and underline documents from OMB are where we see the White House gutting environmental and workplace safety regulations (Check out the reports from the fine folks at the Center for Progressive Reform for many examples).

And indeed there are a few cases of that here, such as this:

EPA intends to consider initiating a TSCA section 6 rulemaking for managing long-chain PFCs.

With that, a statement that EPA was definitely going to initiate rulemaking on C8 became a statement that EPA would think about doing so.

And, the OMB was sure to make EPA add this paragraph explaining the uses and importance of these kinds of chemicals:

PFCs are substances with special properties that have thousands of important manufacturing and industrial applications. They impart valuable properties, including fire resistance and oil, stain, grease, and water repellency. For example, they are used to provide non-stick surfaces on cookware and waterproof, breathable membranes for clothing, and are used in many industry segments, including the aerospace, automotive, building/construction, chemical processing, electronics, semiconductors, and textile industries.

But there are also some interesting instances where OMB appears to have greatly strengthened this particular EPA document.

For instance:

To date, significant adverse effects have not been detected found in humans general human population; however, significant adverse effects have been identified in laboratory animals and wildlife.

And then there’s this section, where OMB added a whole bunch of material about the potential impacts of PFCs on children:

Long-chain PFCs are a concern for children’s health. Studies in laboratory animals have demonstrated toxicity, including neonatal mortality. Children’s exposures are greater than adults due to increased intakes of food, water and air per pound of body weight, as well as child-specific exposure pathways such as breast milk, consumption, mouthing and ingestion of non-food items, and increased contact with the floor. Biomonitoring studies have found PFCs in cord blood and breast milk, and have reported that children have higher levels of some PFCs compared to adults. Thus, given the pervasive exposure to PFCs, the persistence of PFCs in the environment, and studies finding deleterious health effects, EPA will examine the potential risks to fetuses and children.