Press Releases

Explosive Government Report Confirms EPA’s “Safe” Exposure Levels to Toxic Nonstick Chemicals Dangerously High

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 21, 2018

Contact: Ansje Miller, CEH, (510)379-8449,
Zack Kaldveer, CEH, (510)938-2664

(Oakland, CA) An explosive government report released yesterday by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) shows that toxic nonstick fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) represent a far greater threat to human health than previously understood. The report also recommends that the safety level for exposure to two well-known PFAS, PFOA and PFOS are up to 10 times lower than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA, the Department of Defense and the White House had been suppressing the release of the report due to fears it might cause a “public relations nightmare” since Mid-May, but finally succumbed to intense public pressure from environmental and public health groups, community members adversely impacted by these dangerous chemicals, and members of Congress.

The report found that PFAS chemicals are linked to pregnancy and fertility problems, liver damage, increased cholesterol, thyroid disease, asthma, and others health problems. The ATSDR review of the literature also concluded that some studies found PFAS chemicals interfere with normal hormone function, which can lead to a wide range of negative health outcomes, including developmental and reproductive problems, including in human offspring, potentially threatening the health of future generations.

“The debate is over. ATSDR’s report confirms that exposure to PFAS represents a public health crisis for present and future generations,” said Ansje Miller, policy director for CEH. “It’s unconscionable that Scott Pruitt’s EPA not only failed to properly regulate these dangerous chemicals but also sought to suppress a report that could help save peoples’ lives, just so chemical companies can make more money.”

Recent research conducted by CEH validates ATSDR’s findings. CEH found a wide variety of disposable foodware products containing these same, toxic fluorinated chemicals. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration found that PFAS could migrate out of food wrappers to contaminate food. In addition, every single microwave popcorn bag the organization recently had independently tested also contained toxic (PFAS) chemicals. These findings are particularly alarming for children’s health because they eat more microwave popcorn than adults and their bodies are still developing, making them more vulnerable.

Due to EPA and Trump Administration’s refusal to address the threat posed by PFAS, states have taken the lead in protecting its communities – including New Jersey, Michigan, California, and Washington – by setting strong standards for water quality and eliminating other routes of exposure, such as firefighting foam, food packaging, carpets, and other consumer products.

“CEH will continue to test for these dangerous chemicals because the reality is manufacturers hide them behind trade secret loopholes, and our government is refusing to push companies to disclose them. This leaves consumers in the dark and at grave risk,” concluded Miller. “We now need states to do what Pruitt’s EPA has refused: put public health above corporate profit and ban the use of these dangerous chemicals in products that we use, breath, drink and touch every day.”