On the EPA and the National Leadership Summit

Earlier this week, the EPA held a banner multi-day event focusing on water pollution. The biggest headline ended up being about press access (or lack thereof,) but the event itself did hold greater importance than that.

The National Leadership Summit this year looked at PFOS and PFOA. If those seem like big terms, thats because they are. PFOS and PFOA are also known as perfluoroalkyl substances, and are considered C8 PFAS. Due to their chemical structure, these compounds take an exceptionally long time to break down, so over time they accumulate in the environment.

While they were long considered to be safe, new evidence is suggesting that they may not be. The long-term effects of PFAs are not yet known — but what is known is their legacy. Though they have been phased out of modern production, their widespread use in the past has lead to significant groundwater contamination; that means the runoff from those old processes is still stuck in the water supply that we rely upon.

So, what does this have to do with the National Leadership Summit?

Well, the big announcements was that the EPA will now be considering hazardous substances, meaning that the EPA will develop maximum contaminant levels for them. That means that PFOS levels will be monitored, to ensure that this contamination doesn’t become a public health crisis.

Nevertheless, all of the hoopla surrounding the summit’s coverage proves one thing above all else: water is becoming more and more political. This kind of political posturing is usually reserved for only the most politicized topics, and this day will go down in history as the one that water became one of them.

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