The debate over the costs and benefits, safety and risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that is taking place in regulatory agencies and courtrooms nationwide might just be as persistent as the incredibly durable chemical compounds themselves.
To enhance the quality of discourse on this complex scientific issue, we will soon announce the results of the Center-commissioned systematic analysis of the research studies most often cited in the risk assessment, public policymaking, and judicial decisions surrounding PFAS.
This independent research will present an honest and objective portrayal of the scientific facts without advocating for a pre-ordained result. We hope that it will serve as a valuable resource for those in the legal and regulatory arenas to make public health decisions that are rooted in validated, transparent, and reproducible evidence that properly accounts for risks and hazards.
While we’re waiting for our research to be completed, I wanted to share three of the dozens of articles and editorials on PFAS that land in my inbox daily. The first is an op-ed by Robert Simon of the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
The ACC is an advocacy organization whose members make and use PFAS compounds. Despite their stake in the outcome of this debate, Mr. Simon raises an important point—the impact of PFAS regulation will affect more than nonstick pans, water resistant clothes, and grease-proof food wrappers. PFAS compounds are essential to everything from cars to semiconductors. Any new regulations will need to take a holistic view of the role that PFAS play in the daily lives of millions of American consumers and businesses.
Scientist and state representative from New Hampshire, Dr. Mark Alliegro, believes the most effective PFAS oversight would be a partnership between policymakers and manufacturers to develop risk-based environmental stewardship regulations that would consider the costs and benefits — not to mention an accurate assessment of safe exposure levels.
Finally, Dr. Frank Leibfarth, a chemist at the University of North Carolina, has developed a filter that can remove PFAS from waterways and municipal water supplies. Dr. Leibfarth joins many other scientific pioneers in the effort to remediate contamination.
PFAS were born from a scientific accident more than 70 years ago. They have since expanded into one of the most utilized chemical compounds in the world.
Wouldn’t it be fitting for researchers to devise a scientific solution to eliminate unwanted PFAS exposure while allowing these incredibly valuable compounds to be used? Perhaps that — rather than bans — is what the goal should be.