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EPA plans to regulate cancer-causing chemicals found in America's drinking water

The EPA is being urged to regulate a group of chemicals that are contaminating the public water supply in dozens of states. The group of chemicals known as PFAS were used in everything from nonstick cookware to firefighting foam.


The EPA announced Thursday plans to regulate a set of harmful chemicals found in drinking water systems that serve millions of Americans. The process, which is expected to take months, is designed to set a maximum contaminant level for Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), a man-made substance found in numerous commercial household items such as food packaging, cleaners, water-repellent fabrics, Teflon-coated cookware, and cleaning products.


Contaminants are also found in fire-fighting foams which have seeped into groundwater sources that eventually reach millions of drinking taps. The chemicals have been linked to cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects. research has shown they also contribute to low infant birth weights, thyroid problems and some cancers.


In this Jan. 16, 2019, file photo, acting Environmental Protection administrator Andrew Wheeler arrives to testify at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.


The EPA says it is moving forward with a response to a class of long-lasting chemical contaminants, amid criticism from members of Congress and environmentalists that it has not moved aggressively to regulate them. In an interview with ABC News Live, Wheeler calls the chemicals commonly referred to as PFAS, “a very important threat.” “The PFAS Action Plan is the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical of concern ever undertaken by EPA," EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said.


“For the first time in agency history, we utilized all of our program offices to construct an all-encompassing plan to help states and local communities address PFAS and protect our nation’s drinking water."