A nonprofit doctors organization found that the federal government approved the use of persistent PFAS chemicals for use in hydraulic fracturing a decade ago, despite safety concerns.
A new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility includes evidence that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 approved the use of three chemicals known as fluorinated acrylic alkylamino copolymers even though EPA scientists had expressed concerns that the chemicals would degrade into PFOA, one of thousands of chemicals that are part of the PFAS family.
The chemicals, used to ease the flow of oil from the ground, are currently being used in six states, but state data indicates the chemicals are not currently being used in fracking operations in Indiana.
PFOA and other PFAS chemicals have been linked to a series of adverse health conditions like increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer, increased cholesterol levels, increased risk of high blood pressure or preeclampsia in pregnant women, decreased birth weight and decreased vaccine response in children.
Currently, the EPA does not regulate the amount of PFAS chemicals that enter drinking water, but the agency has issued nonenforceable lifetime health advisories for two PFAS chemicals in drinking water, PFOS and PFOA.
A bill currently being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives would require the EPA to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA or the Superfund law.
The designation would give the federal government power to direct PFAS manufacturers and users to report how much PFAS the produce or use and enforce cleanups of PFAS chemicals.