EPA sets toxins response plan amid criticism from lawmakers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to announce a plan for dealing with a class of long-lasting chemical contaminants amid complaints from members of Congress and environmentalists that it’s not moved aggressively enough to regulate them.

So-called forever chemicals, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, pose “a very important threat,” acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an interview with ABC News Live ahead of a scheduled briefing yesterday in Philadelphia.

Wheeler said the agency was moving forward with the process under the Safe Drinking Water Act that could lead to new safety thresholds for the presence of the chemicals in water, but he did not commit in the interview to setting standards.

The chemicals are found in consumer products ranging from fabrics, rugs and carpets to cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss. Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into drinking water supplies.

Scientific studies have found “associations” between the chemicals and cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and other health issues.

With the Senate considering whether to confirm him as EPA chief, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have pressed Wheeler to establish mandatory limits for PFAS in public water systems.