The latest bugbear in the environmental contamination business is PFOA’s. These are part of a family of chemicals called PFAS. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The EPA notes that,
PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.
There’s no debate about whether these chemicals can lead to adverse health effects. The Issue is at what concentration. While PFOA’s can build up, they are so prevalent that everyone has some in their bloodstream. But nothing ever comes of it. Why? The concentration level needed to produce adverse effects is high.
But Government agencies are forever and a day justifying their existence and their budgets. So investigating contaminations provides a vehicle for lowering thresholds. In the public interest. Or, so they say.
Citizens scared by “experts,” Special Interests, and media outlets begging for eye-ball catching headlines aid and abet. When in reality, most of the major scares in our lifetimes have been acts of fraud.
In my town, a chemical company leaked PFOA’s into the local water supply. Bad stewardship, no doubt. They’ve been pretty decent about supporting the investigation and paying for “clean up.” As well as backstopping a project to put all the people whose ground wells showed traces on town water. That’s a lot of plumbing. But through it all the state Department of Environmental Services has been ‘wrestling’ with setting a lower threshold. A change that helps government and ax-grinders to be sure but does it help the citizenry?
It’s Not the People They Aim to Help
Long before the “massive” contamination of a portion of Merrimack New Hampshire’s water supply, I was aware of PFOA’s. The Teflon adhering chemistry was already on the radar of the usual suspects as a potential source of easy revenue, actual science be damned, through media sensationalism, scare-tactics, and inevitably – lawsuits.
There’s a lot of detail in that post, but I’ll try to keep the pull quotes to a minimum.
Workers subjected to higher concentrations and long-term exposure have been recorded with anywhere from 1-10 parts per million in their blood with no greater incidence of associated health problems than people who have little to no exposure. So what did they find in Merrimack besides Erin Brokavitch? In Mid- 2016, (emphasis mine)
If you don’t find what you need, change it.
The test results for my town show levels of PFOA from 17 to 820 parts per trillion. Test results from the Merrimack Village Water District ranged from 17 to 90 parts per trillion. This is nowhere near the exposure of workers handling the material who have no greater incidence of health issues than the general population. But EPA and NHDES think 400 parts per trillion would be a great threshold.
“…the highest level of PFOA that has been measured in water is approximately 10 ppb (10micrograms/liter). Therefore, in order to reach even the lower estimate of the amount of CFO suspected to cause adverse effects (500 micro-grams/kg/day), the average person (of 70 kg)would need to drink more than 3,500 liters of this most highly contaminated water daily.** “
There is no sensible reason for the new standard unless the state of New Hampshire is hoping to engage in some jackpot justice. Suing large companies in search of large payouts to fill state coffers. An expense that is ultimately born by consumers. They’ve done it before, they will do it again.
Women who flossed with Oral-B Glide had higher levels of a type of PFAS known as perfluorohexanesulfonic acid, or PFHxS, in their body versus women who didn’t use the floss, according to findings published Tuesday on Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.
Other generic versions of the brand that read “compare to Oral-B Glide” and another floss with the description “single strand Teflon fiber” also tested positive for fluorine, researchers report.
No, there’s no reason to do that but hey, when has that ever stopped them?