Environmental activists and activists from across the state are trying convince officials at the Environmental Protection Agencyto expand studies into an environment containment they believe could negatively impactNorth Carolinians.
A coalition of N.C.-based environmental organizations petitioned the EPA in October to expand their planned study on PFAS (or polyfluoroalkyl substances). PFAS chemicals are chemicals that can be found naturally in the soil, air, and water.
According to the EPA PFAS can also find their way into people’s bodies via liquids and food they eat.
“Because they are widespread use and their persistence within the environment, many PFAS can be found in blood of people and animals around the world and at low levels in a variety food products and the environment,” reads a section of the EPA’s website on PFAS. “PFAS can be found at various locations around the country and the world in water, soil, air, fish and soil.
The October petition outlines the dangers PFAS pose.
The petition stated that PFAS have caused significant concern in the U.S. because of their persistence, potential to bio-accumulate and widespread presence in living beings, products and the environment. It also demonstrated adverse health effects at low doses.
The petition asks for more studies. The agency did no announce additional studies in its response to the petition. Instead, the EPA plans to continue the testing they have already planned to do.
“Today because of researchers from N.C. State scientists at EPA, advocacy groups and so many community that depend on Cape Fear River drinking waters, weve increased our understanding of PFAS and now we know more than ever before,” Michael Regan, EPA Administrator, said in October, as he spoke out about the road map for studying PFAS within the state.
The roadmap includes, among other things, testing of pollutant source and federal funding.
The petitioners claim that the current plans are not sufficient.
“Simply put: EPA had over a decade to review the many submissions and letters of petitioners expressing the concerns of North Carolina residents but has completely missed all the point of the petition,” reads a response of the Center for Environmental Healthto EPA’s decision.
Other state organisations also expressed concerns.
“For decades our communities have suffered silently due to PFAS contaminated drinking water,” stated La’Meshia Whittington from the North Carolina Black Alliance. She was one of the many organizations that signed on the petition. “All the while, polluting companies have continued to profit off our pain. Our dedicated team of community advocates as well as legal counsel and scientists provided EPA with the tools necessary to swiftly and clearly act to save our communities. We are deeply disappointed that Biden EPA did not use these tools in its reply to our petition.
The petitioners say they are open to a legal appeal.
Dean-Paul Stephens covers racial justice.Follow him on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.If you have tips, send an email to [email protected].