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EPA memo encourages states to take action against harmful forever chemicals

There are a number of initiatives in the works to address PFAS in drinking water.
AFP via Getty Images
There are a number of initiatives in the works to address PFAS in drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency just released new guidelines for states on how to reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals also known as PFAS.

Called forever chemicals, PFAS do not degrade in nature over time and have been found in the bloodstream of people and wildlife all over the world. In Idaho, the Environmental Working Group identified Elmore County as having the highest level of contamination.

In a new memo, the EPA recommends addressing PFAS contamination at the source and offers a roadmap to taking action to reduce the harmful chemicals.

The agency advises states use the Clean Water Act to restrict facilities from releasing these pollutants into the waste and stormwater infrastructure. The act does not regulate PFAS currently but the EPA recommends they be added to state permitting systems.

Exposure to these chemicals can cause birth defects, disrupt fertility, lower immune system response and increase the risk of cancer.

They are widely used to make materials found everywhere, from rugs and clothing to food packaging and tires. A recent study released by Water Alliance, a clean water advocacy group, shows more than 80% of U-S waterways contain at least one harmful PFAS.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.