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EPA Sets Drinking Water Advisory for Industrial Chemicals

waterThe EPA has advised water utilities to lower the amount of perfluorooctanoic acid, a toxic industrial chemical, in drinking water.

The health advisory, issued yesterday, follows high levels of the chemical, called PFOA, in drinking water in New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. The man-made chemical is used in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and dozens of other industrial applications.

Earlier this year, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation said Honeywell and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics must pay to clean up PFOA found in drinking water.

The EPA had been investigating PFOA under the Toxic Substances Control Act because it is very persistent in the environment and remains in people’s blood for a very long time. It can cause developmental problems in lab animals.

Manufactures have voluntarily phased out the chemical, but it hasn’t been banned by the EPA.

Thursday’s health advisory, while not legally enforceable, says drinking water with PFOA concentrations of 70 parts per trillion or more is not healthy for human consumption. The previous guideline was 400 parts per trillion.

State agencies can set their own stricter guidelines. New York and New Hampshire have set limits of 100 parts per trillion, while Vermont’s limit is 20 parts per trillion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The EPA also set a 70 parts per trillion guideline for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), used to make products stain resistant. The earlier guideline was 200 parts per trillion.

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