Jun 18, 2024

Help Butterflies, Bees And Other Pollinators During Pollinator Week

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages Wisconsinites to help native pollinators during Pollinator Week, June 17-23, and throughout the rest of the summer and fall.

A pollinator is any animal that visits flowering plants and transfers pollen from flower to flower, which helps plants grow fruits and seeds. Most of Wisconsin's pollinators are insects like bees (Wisconsin has 400 native species, including 20 bumble bee species), butterflies and moths. Wisconsin's pollinators also include hummingbirds and some beetles and flies.

"There's a special connection between our native pollinators and the natural areas that make Wisconsin so unique. The federally endangered Karner blue butterfly and rusty patched bumble bee are more abundant in Wisconsin than many other parts of the country," said Jay Watson, DNR insect ecologist. "These endangered species as well as Wisconsin's other native pollinators need our help. Getting trained as a volunteer or creating a healthy habitat for them in your backyard garden is a great place to start."

In addition to supporting rare pollinators, flowering plants provide food to common pollinators, other insects, people and wildlife. They also support healthy ecosystems that clean the air and stabilize soil. Despite the importance of native pollinators, many are facing population declines.

Here are some ways Wisconsinites can help pollinators:

Tips For Gardeners

  • Plant native plants and trees. Early blooming trees are an important food source for bumble bee queens emerging from hibernation and many other insects, which in turn provide food for birds and bats. Flowers that bloom throughout the growing season, like columbine, bee balm and goldenrod, fill your garden with colors for months while providing food to pollinators.
  • Familiarize yourself with and plant native host plants for butterfly larvae that work with the sun and soil in your yard. Many butterflies depend on specific plants for their lifecycles, like common milkweed (monarchs), violets (meadow fritillary) or dill, fennel and parsley (black swallowtails).
  • Provide water and shelter. Pollinators need water to drink and safe places to rest, avoid bad weather and spend the winter. You can maintain brush and leaf piles, avoid trimming hollow-stemmed plants through the winter and provide water such as a bird bath.
  • Maintain a yard free from pesticides and herbicides. Insecticides can harm or kill pollinators, and herbicides can kill the plants they need to survive.

Volunteer And Support Opportunities


Jun 14, 2024

Air in Louisiana More Toxic Than Previously Thought

The presence of a dangerous chemical in the air of southeast Louisiana, is far greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated and exceeds safe limits, a study published Tuesday found. The levels of ethylene oxide, exposure to which can cause lung, breast, or other cancers, are nine times higher Ethylene oxide levels than the EPA estimated, the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The new study found that the gas' presence averaged about 31 ppt and was far higher in certain locations within the industrial corridor, which runs alongside the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. In each of the census tracts the researchers studied, the level of the gas was higher than the EPA had estimated for that area, in most cases significantly, with a median discrepancy of about 21 ppt. "We expected to see ethylene oxide in this area," Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and an author of the study, told The Guardian, noting that it was "worrisome,"
"But we didn't expect the levels that we saw, and they certainly were much, much higher than EPA's estimated levels."

May 6, 2024

Conservation Efforts Are Succeeding Overall at Slowing Biodiversity Loss, Global Study Confirms

A first-of-its-kind study that analyzed hundreds of conservation actions around the world has confirmed that efforts toward preserving wildlife are resulting in measurable achievements.

The international study, published in the journal Science, sought to assess whether conservation efforts were having any positive impacts on biodiversity. Researchers analyzed 186 studies, including 665 trials, and measured changes to biodiversity.

Overall, the researchers found that about two-thirds of the studied conservation actions at minimum slowed biodiversity declines or led to improved biodiversity. 

"If you read the headlines about extinction these days, it would be easy to get the impression that we are failing biodiversity — but that's not really looking at the whole picture," Penny Langhammer, co-author of the study and executive vice president of Re:wild, told the BBC. "This study provides the strongest evidence to date that not only does conservation improve the state of biodiversity and slow its decline, but when it works, it really works."

Apr 21, 2024

​EPA issues new drinking water standard for PFAS

Earlier this month the EPA enacted it's first new federal drinking water standard in over 20 years for PFAS.

This new standard will require public water utilities to test for 6 specific PFAS chemicals

Here's a table from the EPA Fact Sheet on this new regulation.

As you can see from the table, the EPA has set legally enforceable limits for 5 PFAS chemicals, and for a hazard limit for a combination 2 or more of 4 of those. Hazard indexes are actually great, because it takes into account concurrent exposure. You can read more what a hazard index here.

The EPA has set aside $1.5 billion a year to help states comply with this standard, and while that might seem like a lot to spend on this one thing, compared to the benefits.

In calculating the quantifiable benefits, the EPA wasn't able to put a number on benefits related to developmental, cardiovascular, liver, immune, endocrine, metabolic, reproductive, musculoskeletal, and carcinogenic effects, which means that the benefits will likely dwarf that $1.5 billion price tag.

A little MORE good news...
April 19th, the EPA designated two of the most common PFAS chemicals (PFOA & PFOS) as hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law.

Both of these chemicals were phased out of use in the early 2000s, but because they are so persistent, they are still widespread.

A designation as a "hazardous substance" means that the EPA can add contaminated sites to the Superfund site list, and earmark funds for cleanup. One of the core aspects of the Superfund law is the "polluter pays" principle - the EPA can require companies to pay for cleanup.

You can read more about what this designation means here.

EPA Takes Action to Maintain Public Health Protections for Communities Near Stationary Combustion Turbines

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied a petition to remove stationary combustion turbines from the list of sources subject to regulation for emissions of air toxics, maintaining public health protections for communities near these facilities.

Today's action supports EPA's comprehensive approach to address climate and health-harming pollution from stationary combustion turbines. EPA is engaging with stakeholders on next steps for a broad-based approach to new and existing combustion turbines, including a proposed revision to the air toxics standards for combustion turbines as well as separate rulemakings to address ozone-forming pollution from new combustion turbines and to establish greenhouse gas emission guidelines for existing combustion turbines. 

EPA's section 112 regulations limit emissions of air toxics, also called hazardous air pollutants, such as formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, acetaldehyde, and metallic HAP (e.g., cadmium, chromium, manganese, lead, nickel). HAP are known to cause – or are suspected to cause – cancer or other serious adverse health and environmental effects. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde are probable human carcinogens.

Petitioners requested EPA remove, or "delist," combustion turbines, saying that cancer risks from this source category were below 1-in-1 million and would meet the statutory "delisting" threshold. EPA has reviewed data and analyses submitted as part of this petition as well as additional emissions testing data. EPA is denying the petition based on the agency's determination that the petition is incomplete and because EPA cannot conclude that there are adequate data to determine that the delisting thresholds in the Clean Air Act have been met. This is primarily due to both the uncertainty in the HAP emissions from affected sources and the missing emissions data from a large number of affected sources in the petitioners' risk analysis.

A pre-publication version of the notice and a fact sheet are available on the Stationary Combustion Turbines: National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants webpage.

Apr 10, 2024

DNR, DHS Respond To EPA’s Announcement Of Maximum Contaminant Levels For PFAS In Drinking Water

WDNR- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced new enforceable federal standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. This includes a new enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4.0 parts per trillion (ppt) individually for PFOA and PFOS and 10 ppt individually for PFNA, PFHxS and GenX. Additionally, the EPA finalized an MCL at a hazard index of 1 when a combination of PFNA, PFHxS, GenX and PFBS are present in a mixture.    

The EPA's enforceable standards acknowledge the importance of limiting exposure to PFAS in total and the role that drinking contaminated water plays in the potential for negative health impacts from PFAS.   

"Overall, Wisconsin's public water systems are well positioned to comply with the EPA's enforceable standards," said Steve Elmore, Director of the DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater. "The DNR set enforceable standards for two types of PFAS in public drinking water in 2022. Over the last year, public water systems throughout Wisconsin have sampled at least once for these and other PFAS."   

The current enforceable standard of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS in public drinking water will remain in effect until the DNR completes rulemaking to comply with the EPA's drinking water standards. This may take up to three years to complete based on Wisconsin's statutory requirements

Additionally, the DNR will formally request that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) update their health-based recommendations for the six PFAS included in EPA's finalized MCLs to account for new scientific findings. Wisconsin DHS anticipates their updated recommendations will be available during the second half of 2024.    

"DHS is committed to protecting Wisconsinites from exposure to PFAS, including diligently reviewing the new scientific information available from EPA," said Kirsten Johnson, DHS Secretary-Designee. "The good news is there are steps people can take right now to reduce their exposure to PFAS in drinking water and other sources." 

While this rulemaking process is underway, the DNR will also work with PFAS-impacted public water systems on potential actions to reduce contamination in water provided to the community.   

Of Wisconsin's nearly 2,000 public water systems, approximately 95% have PFAS levels below the EPA's standards. Sampling results for municipal public drinking water systems are available to view in the PFAS Interactive Data Viewer.   

The specific actions taken by any public water system will depend on their circumstances and could include treating water to remove PFAS or finding a different water source. These MCLs do not apply to drinking water from private wells.

Funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law may be available to municipal public water systems to take corrective actions against PFAS

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam.  

These contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of wastewater that contain PFAS from treatment plants and use of certain types of firefighting foams. PFAS are known to accumulate in fish and wildlife tissues as well as in the human body, posing several risks to human health. 

You can find more information about actions to take to reduce your exposure to PFAS on the DHS website

For communities near chemical plants, EPA's new air pollution rule spells relief

The new regulation is aimed at reducing the risk of cancer for people who live close to plants emitting toxic chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a major rule on Tuesday to reduce toxic air pollution coming from more than 200 chemical plants across the U.S. The new standards for petrochemical plants, once implemented, will cut enough cancer-causing emissions to reduce cancer risk by 96% for people living near these industries, according to the EPA.

"This is a game changer any way you look at it," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan at a press event Tuesday. "This is a game changer for the health. It's a game changer for the prosperity. It's a game changer for children in these communities nationwide."

Apr 2, 2024

EPA Warns Farmworkers about Risks of Dacthal

WASHINGTON — April 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing its next steps to protect people from the herbicide dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate (DCPA, or Dacthal). EPA is warning people of the significant health risks to pregnant individuals and their developing babies exposed to DCPA and will be pursuing action to address the serious, permanent, and irreversible health risks associated with the pesticide as quickly as possible. EPA has also issued a letter to AMVAC, the sole manufacturer of DCPA, restating the risks the agency found and stating that due to the serious risks posed by DCPA, the agency is pursuing further action to protect workers and others who could be exposed. EPA is taking this rare step of warning farmworkers about these concerns while it works on actions to protect workers because of the significant risks the agency has identified.

"DCPA exposure represents a serious risk to pregnant workers and their children, so it's imperative that we warn people about those risks now," said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. "We're committed to taking action to protect the health of children, workers, and others who are exposed to DCPA."

DCPA is an herbicide registered to control weeds in both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, but is primarily used on crops such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and onions.

DCPA is currently undergoing registration review, a process that requires reevaluating registered pesticides every 15 years to ensure they cause no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment. In May 2023, EPA released its assessment on the risks of occupational and residential exposure to products containing DCPA, after the agency reviewed data that it compelled AMVAC to submit, which had been overdue for almost 10 years. The assessment found concerning evidence of health risks associated with DCPA use and application, even when personal protective equipment and engineering controls are used. The most serious risks extend to the developing babies of pregnant individuals. EPA estimates that some pregnant individuals handling DCPA products could be subjected to exposures from four to 20 times greater than what current DCPA product label use instructions indicate is considered safe. EPA is concerned that pregnant women exposed to DCPA could experience changes to fetal thyroid hormone levels, and these changes are generally linked to low birth weight, impaired brain development, decreased IQ, and impaired motor skills later in life.

Also of concern are risks to developing babies of pregnant individuals entering or working in areas where DCPA has already been applied (especially post-application workers involved in tasks such as transplanting, weeding and harvesting). Current product labels specify that entry into treated fields must be restricted for 12 hours after application. However, the evidence indicates that for many crops and tasks, levels of DCPA in the previously treated fields remained at unsafe levels for 25 days or more. EPA also identified potential risks for individuals using golf courses and athletic fields after DCPA was applied. Spray drift from pesticide application could also put developing babies at risk for pregnant individuals living near areas where DCPA is used.

Please read full from source:


Mar 26, 2024

EPA issues PFAS test order as part of National Testing Strategy

WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued the fourth Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) test order requiring testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under EPA's National PFAS Testing Strategy, the latest action taken under EPA's PFAS Strategic Roadmap to confront contamination from "forever chemicals" nationwide. 

This action orders the 3M Company and Wacker Chemical Corporation to conduct and submit testing on the physical-chemical properties of 2-(N-Methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)ethanol (NMeFOSE) (Chemical Abstract Service Reference Number: 24448-09-7), including testing on the health effects following inhalation of this chemical. NMeFOSE has been used widely in products, including clothing and carpet treatments as well as furniture coatings (paint and varnish). NMeFOSE has been found in the air and in biosolids, which are a byproduct of the water treatment processes often used on agricultural fields as fertilizer. Studies have also demonstrated that NMeFOSE can accumulate in indoor dust and air, as well as in outdoor environmental media.

"Communities across the country need information about whether or not PFAS are in our air and water, and any health risks caused by these chemicals," said Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff. "This year, we're continuing to use test orders to gather data about the health effects of PFAS so that we can take any necessary action to protect people and the environment."

After thoroughly examining existing hazard and exposure data, EPA has concluded that NMeFOSE may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The potential hazards from exposure to this chemical could include damage to the nervous system and immune system, as well as cancer.  The test order will help EPA better understand the potential hazards and potential exposures associated with NMeFOSE. 

The information EPA receives under this order will not only improve the Agency's understanding of human health effects of NMeFOSE, but also potential health effects of more than 100 PFAS that are structurally similar to NMeFOSE and add to the agency's overall understanding of this category of PFAS.

The companies subject to the test order may either conduct the tests as described in the order, or provide EPA with existing information that they believe EPA did not identify in its search, but which satisfies the order requirements.

EPA encourages companies to jointly conduct testing to avoid unnecessary duplication of tests and will also consider possible combinations of tests that cover all required endpoints to diminish the amount of time, animal subjects and costs required.

The order employs a tiered testing process, as TSCA requires. The order is effective today, March 25, 2024. The results of all the first-tier testing are required to be submitted to EPA within one year of the effective date of the order and will inform the decision as to which additional tests are necessary. The order and any data submitted in response to this order will be made publicly available on EPA's website and in the applicable docket on the Regulations.gov page, subject to confidentiality considerations under TSCA section 14. 

PFAS National Testing Strategy 

In the National PFAS Testing Strategy, EPA assigned PFAS into smaller categories based on similarities in structure, physical-chemical properties, and existing toxicity data. EPA is issuing test orders for PFAS in specific categories that lack toxicity data to inform EPA's understanding of the potential effects on human health and the environment.

As EPA continues to further develop this strategy, refine its universe and categorization of PFAS, and consider stakeholder feedback, the agency also plans to increase the weight it places on the potential for exposures when identifying specific PFAS that would require testing.

Please read full from EPA:


Mar 5, 2024

Endangered species, the “insect apocalypse” Death by a thousand cuts

Insects comprise much of the animal biomass linking primary producers and consumers, as well as higher-level consumers in freshwater and terrestrial food webs. Situated at the nexus of many trophic links, many numerically abundant insects provide ecosystem services upon which humans depend: the pollination of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; the biological control of weeds, agricultural pests, disease vectors, and other organisms that compete with humans or threaten their quality of life; and the macrodecomposition of leaves and wood and removal of dung and carrion, which contribute to nutrient cycling, soil formation, and water purification. Clearly, severe insect declines can potentially have global ecological and economic consequences.

Please read more from source:

Mar 4, 2024

EPA finalizes stronger safety standards to protect at-risk communities from chemical accidents

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing finalized amendments to the Risk Management Program to further protect at-risk communities from chemical accidents, especially those located near facilities in industry sectors with high accident rates. The "Safer Communities by Chemical Accident Prevention Rule" includes EPA's most protective safety provisions for chemical facilities in history, requiring stronger measures for prevention, preparedness, and public transparency. The rule protects the health and safety of all communities by requiring industry to prevent accidental releases of dangerous chemicals that could otherwise cause deaths and injuries, damage property and the environment, or require surrounding communities to evacuate or shelter-in-place.

"Many communities that are vulnerable to chemical accidents are in overburdened and underserved areas of the country," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "This final rule is a critical piece of the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to advancing environmental justice by putting in place stronger safety requirements for industrial facilities and new measures to protect communities from harm."

The final rule includes revisions to improve chemical process safety, to assist in planning, preparing for, and responding to accidents, and to increase public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated sources. The rule requires regulated facilities to perform a safer technologies and alternatives analysis, and in some cases, facilities will be required to implement reliable safeguard measures as practicable. This new requirement is expected to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents.

Read more information on the rule visit EPA's Risk Management Program rule website: 

Mar 1, 2024

A simple way to get microplastics out of your water

New research found that boiling drinking water can remove up to nearly 90 percent of microplastics.
"This study is aimed to stimulate more studies," the scientists wrote in their new paper. But they also noted that boiling water is relatively easy to do and has other health benefits — like killing potentially harmful microbes, parasites and viruses.

If you want to try it, the researchers cautioned you should wait 5 to 10 minutes to let the solids settle — and let the water cool. 
Then you can filter out the solids.

​World’s largest review finds direct associations with higher risks of cancer, heart disease and early death linked to Ultra-processed food

Ultra-processed food (UPF), "often chemically manipulated cheap ingredients" and "made palatable and attractive by using combinations of flavours, colours, emulsifiers, thickeners and other additives", directly linked to 32 health parameters spanning mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and metabolic health outcomes."

From the Guardian:
Ultra-processed food (UPF) is directly linked to 32 harmful effects to health, including a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, adverse mental health and early death, according to the world's largest review of its kind.

The findings from the first comprehensive umbrella review of evidence come amid rapidly rising global consumption of UPF such as cereals, protein bars, fizzy drinks, ready meals and fast food.

In the UK and US, more than half the average diet now consists of ultra-processed food. For some, especially people who are younger, poorer or from disadvantaged areas, a diet comprising as much as 80% UPF is typical.
Convincing evidence showed that higher UPF intake was associated with about a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48 to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.

Highly suggestive evidence also indicated that higher PF intake was associated with a 21% greater risk of death from any cause, a 40 to 66% increased risk of heart disease related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes and sleep problems, and a 22% increased risk of depression.

The findings published in the BMJ suggest diets high in UPF may be harmful to many elements of health. The results of the review involving almost 10 million people underscored a need for measures to target and reduce exposure to UPF, the researchers said.

The review involved experts from a number of leading institutions, including Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, the University of Sydney and Sorbonne University in France.

Please read full from Andrew Gregory Health editor of The Guardian

Science Source:

Feb 27, 2024

​Very cool: plants trees stalling effects of global warming in eastern US.

(The Guardian) Trees provide innumerable benefits to the world, from food to shelter to oxygen, but researchers have now found their dramatic rebound in the eastern US has delivered a further, stunning feat – the curtailing of the soaring temperatures caused by the climate crisis.

While the US, like the rest of the world, has heated up since industrial times due to the burning of fossil fuels, scientists have long been puzzled by a so-called "warming hole" over parts of the US south-east where temperatures have flatlined, or even cooled, despite the unmistakable broader warming trend.

A major reason for this anomaly, the new study finds, is the vast reforestation of much of the eastern US following the initial loss of large numbers of trees in the wake of European settlement in America. Such large expanses have been reforested in the past century – with enough trees sprouting back to cover an area larger than England – that it has helped stall the affect of global heating.

"The reforestation has been remarkable and we have shown this has translated into the surrounding air temperature,"
said Mallory Barnes, an environmental scientist at Indiana University who led the research. "The 'warming hole' has been a real mystery and while this doesn't explain all of it, this research shows there is a really important link to the trees coming back."

There was a surge in deforestation from the start of the US's early colonial history, as woodland was razed for agriculture and housing, but this began to reverse from around the 1920s as more people began to move into cities, leaving marginal land to become populated again with trees. The US government, meanwhile, embarked upon an aggressive tree-planting program, with these factors leading to about 15m hectares of reforested area in the past century in the eastern US.

Read more from Oliver Milman

Research source:

Feb 20, 2024

EPA Issues Regulation Strengthening Air Quality Standards for PM 2.5

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to strengthen the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). The current standard, which has been in place for more than a decade, limits the average annual amount of fine particle pollution to 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The EPA will now require a 25% reduction in the allowable PM 2.5 to 9.0 micrograms per cubic meter but will retain the previous standards for all other PM standards.

The tougher standard on particulate matter, often referred to as the "soot rule," will be fully implemented by 2032. The EPA maintains that the reduced PM 2.5 standard will result in $46 billion in public health benefits.  The EPA's new rule will trigger the following actions to implement the revised PM2.5 NAAQS:

For more information on particle pollution and to read the final rule, visit epa.gov/pm-pollution

Jan 23, 2024

EPA Proposes New Waste Combustion Emissions Limits Under the Clean Air Act

Proposed rules would increase the stringency of Clean Air Act standards applicable to facilities that burn 250 tons or more of municipal solid waste per day.

Among the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA") latest environmental initiatives is its proposal to amend the 1995 Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources and Emission Guidelines for Existing Sources: Large Municipal Waste Combustors ("LMWCs"). On January 11, 2024, EPA announced proposed rules that would increase the stringency of Clean Air Act standards applicable to facilities that burn 250 tons or more of municipal solid waste per day.

For new sources, the proposed rules would limit emissions of nine pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, mercury, and dioxins/furans. For existing sources, the proposed rules would revise emissions limits for all nine of the above pollutants except for carbon monoxide limits for two subcategories of combustors. Clients should consider the impact of the proposed rules on waste-to-energy systems and other operations that depend on large waste combustion facilities.

EPA is also proposing to:

  • Remove exemptions and exclusions for startup, shutdown, and malfunction;
  • Add provisions for electronic reporting of certain notifications and reports;
  • Revise recordkeeping requirements; and
  • Clarify Title V permitting requirements for certain air curtain incinerators.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to evaluate these standards every five years in order to take into account developments in pollution control technologies and techniques. EPA states that the proposed standards are based on emission levels achieved by the "best controlled and lower-emitting" sources, particularly "cost-effective advances in NOx emissions controls."

As of January 11, 2024, EPA estimates that the proposed rules would apply to 57 facilities with 152 units that have the capacity to combust more than 250 tons per day of municipal solid waste. EPA states that these facilities nearly are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color, and that the proposed amendments would result in an estimated 14,000 tons per year reduction in regulated pollutants.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Please read full from source:

Jan 10, 2024

​Benzene Public Health Report

Excellent report on the struggle to get industries to control benzene, whose substitution with safer solvents was urged by Dr. Alice Hamilton and others over 100 years ago.  Journalist Jim Morris began reporting on the toxic corporate crimes of these industries as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in the 1970s.

From the article:
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, concluded that the legal limit at the time — 10 parts per million, or 10 ppm, over an eight-hour workday — was far too lenient. Led by Eula Bingham, a plain-spoken Kentuckian appointed by Jimmy Carter, the agency issued an emergency temporary standard that limited exposure to 1 ppm.

What happened next marked the beginning of a battle over benzene regulation that continues to this day. The more the chemical is studied, the worse it looks, with recent science tying even miniscule amounts to childhood leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers.

Dec 23, 2023

Wisconsin DNR Halts Efforts to Set PFAS Groundwater Standards, Concedes Legislative Action Will Be Required for Adoption of Proposed Standards

Michael Best - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and Gov. Tony Evers halted rulemaking to establish Chapter NR 140 groundwater standards for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) after determining state law requires legislative action to adopt the standards as proposed.

In 2017, the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker adopted the Wisconsin Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, more commonly known by its acronym (the REINS Act). Among other things, the REINS Act requires agencies to stop work on any rule if an economic impact analysis (EIA) indicates that compliance and implementation costs of a rule are reasonably expected to be $10 million or more in any two-year period. Rulemaking may not proceed until legislation authorizing the agency to promulgate the rule is enacted or the agency modifies the rule to reduce compliance costs of the rule below the $10 million threshold.

In its final EIA for the proposed PFAS groundwater standards rule, WDNR concludes that implementation and compliance costs "reasonably expected to be incurred by or passed along to businesses, local governmental units, and individuals" as a result of the standards will exceed $33 million in the first two years after the rule takes effect. As a result, WDNR has determined that it must stop rulemaking.

"As required by state statutes, the DNR has stopped work on this proposed rule and has notified the state legislature," WDNR said in a news release. "The state legislature will need to grant the DNR authority to continue the rulemaking process for setting PFAS standards..."

WDNR has also canceled a virtual public hearing on the draft rule scheduled for January 3, 2024.

Chapter NR 140 groundwater standards are Wisconsin's ambient groundwater quality standards. After adoption, NR 140 enforcement standards and preventive action limits are utilized in a number of regulatory programs, including the Remediation and Redevelopment Program (as related to environmental remediation of sites impacted by hazardous substance releases) and the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program (as related to discharges to groundwater regulated under state law).

Based on recommendations from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, WDNR had proposed the following NR 140 groundwater standards:

  • For PFOA and PFOS (individually or combined), an Enforcement Standard (ES) of 20 parts per trillion (ng/L) and a Preventive Action Limit (PAL) of 2 parts per trillion.
  • For PFBS, an ES of 450 parts per billion (µg/L) and a PAL of 90 parts per billion.
  • For HFPO-DA ("GenX"), an ES of 300 parts per trillion and a PAL of 30 parts per trillion.

In a letter released by the Governor's Office, Gov. Evers asked two legislative Republicans to introduce legislation enabling the PFAS groundwater standards to move forward.

"As required under law, the DNR will pause rulemaking efforts on this proposed permanent rule until the Wisconsin State Legislature passes legislation explicitly allowing the DNR to continue this rulemaking," Gov. Evers wrote. "To expedite resuming this important rulemaking process, and consistent with the commitment you made to me to pursue legislation to that effect, my office has drafted legislation in partnership with the DNR for the Wisconsin State Legislature to take up expeditiously. I urge you to do so without delay."

Read full at: Michael Best

Dec 3, 2023

​Boeing 787 flys from London to New York powered solely by animal waste; approach could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry by 70% (More)

Sustainable aviation fuel, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 70%, is the best near-term way for the international aviation industry to achieve its net zero target by 2050, the U.S. Energy Department said, though it called the goal aspirational.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said that while domestic production of the fuel had jumped from about 2 million gallons in 2016 to 15.8 million gallons in 2022, it accounted for less than 0.1% of the jet fuel used by major U.S. airlines. It was also a drop in the bucket compared to the goal of producing 1 billion gallons a year set in 2018 by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Please read full from:

To protect kids, EPA wants total removal of lead pipes for the first time

(The Washington Post) The proposed rule, aimed at reducing exposure to a potent neurotoxin, would require water systems nationwide to replace lead pipes that carry tap water to homes, schools and offices

The EPA has said it could cost $45 billion.
But the costs of lead exposure are also high. Lead can cause irreversible cognitive damage and other health problems, even at low levels, and particularly in small children. Despite the significant health threat, cities have struggled to get rid of the estimated 9 million lead pipes that remain. And the federal government has never required their total replacement.

"This is a public health concern that has unfortunately spanned generations and an issue that has disproportionately affected low-income communities," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during a call with reporters Wednesday. "Our proposed improvements are a major advancement."

Please read full at:

Bacteria that consumes greenhouse gases

(The Guardian) Typically, this group of bacteria thrive in environments with high levels of methane (between 5,000 and 10,000 parts per million (ppm)). The normal concentrations in our atmosphere have much lower levels of only about 1.9 ppm of methane. But certain areas such as landfills, rice fields and oilwells emit higher concentrations of about 500 ppm.

"Bacteria that rapidly eat methane at the higher concentrations found around cattle herds, etc could make a huge contribution to cutting methane emissions, especially from tropical agriculture," said Euan Nisbet, professor of Earth sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, commenting on the findings of the study.

The strain's high methane consumption rate is probably due to a low energy requirement and greater attraction for methane – more than five times more than that of other bacteria, according to the study.

"The bacteria oxidise the methane to CO2 (a much less powerful greenhouse gas) and so you can even use the exhaust to pump into greenhouses and grow tomatoes," said Nisbet.

Read full at:

Music can reduce pain.

According to a 2023 study by scientists at McGill University in Montreal, listening to your favorite music reduces pain by one point on a 10-point scale. Scientists asked a series of questions after participants experienced pain while listening to either their favorite songs, relaxing songs picked for them, scrambled music, or silence. Once each seven-minute round was over, subjects rated the music's pleasantness and how many "chills" — that goosebump feeling you get when listening to moving music — they experienced. Listening to preferred music, especially moving music, far outranked other scenarios, and participants ranked the pain as less intense and less unpleasant. 

Nov 30, 2023

Forest “friendly bacteria” schools boost children’s immune systems

First developed in Denmark in the early 1950s, forest schools have been steadily gaining momentum across the globe over the past two decades. The practice, which sees children spending their days learning outdoors among the trees, offers young ones a host of physical and emotional benefits.  Kids who are educated outside come in contact with a variety of "friendly bacteria," which can boost their immune systems by increasing the microbial diversity on their skin and in their guts. And forest schools, which can now be found on at least four continents, have also been shown to improve mental health and instill a sense of responsibility for the natural world.

Forest boost children's immune systems

Denmark forest schools:

Nov 27, 2023

​Finland will be self-sufficient in electricity within a year or two, says minister

In Eurajoki, Finland a new facility has come online that can produce clean energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expected to meet 14% of Finland's electricity demand (which is around 756,000 people ), this facility has made electricity prices in Finland drop below zero. And believe it or not, America has 93 of these same facilities hidden throughout the country.

It will help Finland to achieve its carbon neutrality targets and increase energy security at a time when European countries have cut oil, gas and other power supplies from Russia, Finland's neighbor.

The Olkiluoto 3 reactor, which has 1,600-megawatt capacity, was connected into the Finnish national power grid in March 2022 and kicked off regular production on Sunday. Operator Teollisuuden Voima, or TVO, tweeted that "Olkiluoto 3 is now ready" after a delay of 14 years from the original plan.

Read full at:

Sep 9, 2023

U.S. Department of Energy Invests $61 Million to Fund 31 Applied Research, Development and Demonstration Projects to Advance Clean Manufacturing

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) selected 31 projects led by national laboratories, industry, and academia to accelerate research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in domestic manufacturing. With over $61 million in federal funding, the selectees will drive innovation to advance the next-generation materials and manufacturing and related energy technologies required to strengthen America's economic competitiveness and move the U.S. towards a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. 

Projects were selected within the following topic areas: 

Next Generation Materials and Manufacturing — 20 projects were selected in this topic area (supported in part by EERE's Wind Energy and Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Technologies Offices), which focuses on RD&D for cost-effective manufacturing processes and novel materials with improved properties. Specific subtopics include increased conductivity metal-based material systems ($6.8 million), harsh environment materials ($15.8 million), and AI/machine learning for aerostructures ($5 million).  

Secure and Sustainable Materials — Four projects were selected in this topic area ($10.8 million). The selected projects specifically address regional pilot-scale demonstrations of circular supply chains that include advancements in technologies such as innovative material recovery, end-of-life processing, and recycling. 

Energy Technology Manufacturing — Seven projects were selected in this topic area, which is co-funded by the Buildings Technologies Office and focuses on clean energy technology manufacturing innovation to improve performance and address technical barriers. Specific subtopics are the development, scale-up, and demonstration of processing technologies to manufacture state-of-the-art cathode active materials (CAM) for domestic electric vehicle battery manufacturing ($17.6 million) and building dehumidification scale-up ($5 million).  

In addition to the federal government's funding of $61.07 million, there is a cost share of $17.53 million, for a total of $78.6 million available to the selectees.

Learn more about the selected projects.

The Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) is leading this FOA in collaboration with the Buildings Technologies Office (BTO) and Office of Electricity (OE). The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Office (HFTO) and the Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) are each co-funding one project in the next generation materials and manufacturing topic.

Sep 5, 2023

Chinese people are living two years longer thanks to ‘war on pollution,’ report says

Hong Kong CNN  — Ten years ago, China's capital was often covered in dense yellow and gray smog, so thick it shrouded nearly everything from view.

People locked their windows, donned face masks and cranked air purifiers on high to escape what became known as Beijing's "air-pocalypse."

The air quality was so bad, and became so globally infamous, that Chinese leaders launched a multibillion-dollar "war against pollution."

A decade on, those efforts are paying dividends. China's pollution levels in 2021 had fallen 42% from 2013, according to a new report released Tuesday, making it a rare success story in the region, where pollution is getting worse in some parts, including South Asia.



77% of young Americans too fat, mentally ill, on drugs and more to join military, Pentagon study finds

A Pentagon study revealed that 77 percent of young Americans do not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, drug use, or mental or physical problems.

"There are many factors that we are navigating through, such as the fact that youth are more disconnected and disinterested compared to previous generations," Dietz said, according to Military.com. "The declining veteran population and shrinking military footprint has contributed to a market that is unfamiliar with military service resulting in an overreliance of military stereotypes."

In September, Pentagon leaders sounded the alarm on its recruiting challenges.

"The Department anticipates we will collectively miss our recruiting mission despite accessing more than 170,000 remarkable young men and women" in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, Stephanie Miller, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. "This constitutes an unprecedented mission gap and is reason for concern."

Microplastics infiltrate all systems of body, cause behavioral changes, potential for serious health consequences, including Alzheimer’s

Neuroscience, Pharmacy Professor Jaime Ross' study finds 'widespread' infiltration, potential for serious health consequences, including Alzheimer's

To understand the physiological systems that may be contributing to these changes in behavior, Ross' team investigated how widespread the microplastic exposure was in the body, dissecting several major tissues including the brain, liver, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, heart, spleen and lungs. The researchers found that the particles had begun to bioaccumulate in every organ, including the brain, as well as in bodily waste.

"Given that in this study the microplastics were delivered orally via drinking water, detection in tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract, which is a major part of the digestive system, or in the liver and kidneys was always probable," Ross said. "The detection of microplastics in tissues such as the heart and lungs, however, suggests that the microplastics are going beyond the digestive system and likely undergoing systemic circulation. The brain blood barrier is supposed to be very difficult to permeate. It is a protective mechanism against viruses and bacteria, yet these particles were able to get in there. It was actually deep in the brain tissue."

That brain infiltration also may cause a decrease in glial fibrillary acidic protein (called "GFAP"), a protein that supports many cell processes in the brain, results have shown. "A decrease in GFAP has been associated with early stages of some neurodegenerative diseases, including mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, as well as depression," Ross said. "We were very surprised to see that the microplastics could induce altered GFAP signaling."

She intends to investigate this finding further in future work. "We want to understand how plastics may change the ability for the brain to maintain its homeostasis or how exposure may lead to neurological disorders and diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease," she said.

The study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Science. It was supported by the Rhode Island Medical Research Foundation, Roddy Foundation, Plastics Initiative, URI College of Pharmacy, George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience, and the Rhode Island Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Network of Biomedical Research Excellence from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.



Aug 14, 2023

Air pollution linked to rise in antibiotic resistance that imperils human health

(The Guardian) Air pollution is helping to drive a rise in antibiotic resistance that poses a significant threat to human health worldwide, a global study suggests.

The analysis, using data from more than 100 countries spanning nearly two decades, indicates that increased air pollution is linked with rising antibiotic resistance across every country and continent.

It also suggests the link between the two has strengthened over time, with increases in air pollution levels coinciding with larger rises in antibiotic resistance.

"Our analysis presents strong evidence that increasing levels of air pollution are associated with increased risk of antibiotic resistance," researchers from China and the UK wrote. "This analysis is the first to show how air pollution affects antibiotic resistance globally." Their findings are published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the fastest-growing threats to global health. It can affect people of any age in any country and is already killing 1.3 million people a year, according to estimates.

The main drivers are still the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which are used to treat infections. But the study suggests the problem is being worsened by rising levels of air pollution.

The study did not look at the science of why the two might be linked. Evidence suggests that particulate matter PM2.5 can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes, which may be transferred between environments and inhaled directly by humans, the authors said.

Air pollution is already the single largest environmental risk to public health. Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma and lung cancer, reducing life expectancy.

Short-term exposure to high pollution levels can cause coughing, wheezing and asthma attacks, and is leading to increased hospital and GP attendances worldwide.

Curbing air pollution could help reduce antibiotic resistance, according to the study, the first in-depth global analysis of possible links between the two. It also said that controlling air pollution could greatly reduce deaths and economic costs stemming from antibiotic-resistant infections.

Please read full at:

Jul 31, 2023

​EPA Awards $1.3M in Research Funding to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to Develop Nanosensors to Detect Pesticides and Mitigate Their Harmful Impacts

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2023) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced over $1.3 million in funding to a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Madison, Wisconsin, to develop nanosensor technology that can detect, monitor, and degrade commonly used pesticides found in water that can harm human health.

"Nanotechnology advances are creating a new future for environmental monitoring," said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "The cutting-edge nanosensor technology that is being developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will help detect pesticides in water at extremely low levels and mitigate the harmful impacts of these pesticides."

Environmental pollutants such as pesticides can adversely affect human health. Simple and reliable sensors to detect pesticides in water sources can help reduce human exposure. The unique properties of nanomaterials have enabled advances in sensor design, such as portability and rapid signal response times, and provided more cost-effective, efficient, and selective detection and monitoring methods.

Using funding from this grant, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison will develop an integrated, portable, sensor-controlled water treatment technology that itself generates the chemicals needed for treatment. The researchers will distribute and deploy the treatment technology across rural communities in Alabama that rely on private and/or community wells for drinking water that have been impacted by neonicotinoids, a commonly used type of pesticide.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Integrated Portable Raman and Electrochemical NanoSystem, or I-PRENS, will be used for rapid onsite detection and degradation of neonicotinoid pesticides in drinking water supplies. The team will develop a small-scale I-PRENS prototype for deployment in Alabama's Black Belt region for long-term monitoring and remediation of neonicotinoid-impacted drinking water supplies. The Black Belt of Central Alabama, known for the region's rich, dark topsoil, faces many factors that make traditional wastewater treatment challenging, including its rural landscape and heavy clay soils. Results from the research are expected to help low income, underrepresented, rural communities in Alabama.

Jun 7, 2023

​Recycling study finds that one facility may emit 3 million pounds of microplastics a year.

(WIRED) The plastics industry has long hyped recycling, even though it is well aware that it's been a failure. Worldwide, only 9 percent of plastic waste actually gets recycled. In the United States, the rate is now 5 percent. Most used plastic is landfilled, incinerated, or winds up drifting around the environment.

Now, an alarming new study has found that even when plastic makes it to a recycling center, it can still end up splintering into smaller bits that contaminate the air and water. This pilot study focused on a single new facility where plastics are sorted, shredded, and melted down into pellets. Along the way, the plastic is washed several times, sloughing off microplastic particles—fragments smaller than 5 millimeters—into the plant's wastewater.

Because there were multiple washes, the researchers could sample the water at four separate points along the production line. (They are not disclosing the identity of the facility's operator, who cooperated with their project.) This plant was actually in the process of installing filters that could snag particles larger than 50 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter), so the team was able to calculate the microplastic concentrations in raw versus filtered discharge water—basically a before-and-after snapshot of how effective filtration is.

Their microplastics tally was astronomical. Even with filtering, they calculate that the total discharge from the different washes could produce up to 75 billion particles per cubic meter of wastewater. Depending on the recycling facility, that liquid would ultimately get flushed into city water systems or the environment. In other words, recyclers trying to solve the plastics crisis may in fact be accidentally exacerbating the microplastics crisis, which is coating every corner of the environment with synthetic particles.

"It seems a bit backward, almost, that we do plastic recycling in order to protect the environment, and then end up increasing a different and potentially more harmful problem," says plastics scientist Erina Brown, who led the research while at the University of Strathclyde.

"It raises some very serious concerns," agrees Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and a former US Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator, who wasn't involved in the paper. "And I also think this points to the fact that plastics are fundamentally not sustainable."

Please read more from WIRED

Jun 5, 2023

US Department of Labor announces more than $12M in grant funding available for worker safety, health training grants

OSHA.GOV – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of more than $12.7 million in funding to make more good jobs available to the U.S. workforce by supporting training initiatives designed to promote safe and healthy in the nation's workplaces.

Administered by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program includes funding opportunities for Targeted Topic Training, Training and Educational Materials Development, and new Capacity Building training grants for nonprofit organizations. Grants will support recipients' efforts to provide instructor-led remote and in-person hands-on training for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness and fatality rates; and vulnerable workers, who are underserved, have limited English proficiency, or are temporary workers.

Specifically, the Harwood grants will fund training and education on how to recognize, avoid and control hazards, and inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Funding will be available in the following categories:

  • Targeted Topic Training: Supporting educational programs that identify and prevent workplace hazards. Applicants must conduct training on OSHA-designated workplace safety and health hazards.
  • Training and Educational Materials Development: Supporting the development of quality classroom-ready training and educational materials that identify and prevent workplace hazards.
  • Capacity Building: Supporting organizations in developing new training programs to assess needs and plan for full-scale safety and health education programs, expanding their capacity to provide workplace safety and health training, education and related assistance to workers and employers.

Applicants must register with grants.gov and SAM.gov to apply for a grant opportunity. Submit applications at www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 7, 2023.

OSHA will host a webinar, "How to Prepare a Competitive Susan Harwood Training Grant Application," to assist organizations in preparing grant applications on May 25, 2023, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Register for the webinar.

OSHA awards grants to nonprofit organizations, including community, faith-based, grassroot organizations, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor/management associations, Indian tribes, and public/state colleges and universities to provide free workplace safety and health training.

Jun 3, 2023

Benzene Found in 80% of Sunscreens tested

Benzene, which has been linked to blood cancers, was reported in 2021 in a large number of sunscreens and after-sun products that were independently tested. The products included sprays, gels, lotions, and creams. Benzene was found in 43 out of 224 sunscreens and in 8 of 48 after-sun products. The highest average concentrations of benzene (2 ppm to 6 ppm) were found in four sprays. The next highest average concentrations of benzene (0.1 to 1 ppm) were in twelve products that were primarily sprays but included four lotions. After-sun products with the highest concentrations of benzene consisted of four gels and one spray.

In the months after benzene was reported in sunscreens, recalls were undertaken by Coppertone and by Johnson & Johnson (of certain Neutrogena sunscreens and one Aveeno sunscreen). In January 2023, Banana Boat also expanded its recall of products found to contain benzene.

In addition, tests published in 2023 of 50 sunscreen products (purchased in 2021) found that 80% contained benzene, with three containing relatively higher amounts.

FDA guidance suggests that no level of benzene is safe, and it is not permitted in these or other products. A study by Health Canada's Bureau of Chemical Hazards has shown that the application of sunscreen specifically increases the absorption rate of benzene through the skin. Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the World Health Organization, and other regulatory agencies. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines benzene as a carcinogen and lists "inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact" as exposure routes.

Please read full at: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/cancer-causing-compounds-benzene-benzophenone-in-sunscreen/carcinogens-sunscreen/

May 30, 2023

Every raindrop has PFAS in it, and ALL The Stuff in Your Home That Contain PFAS 'Forever Chemicals'

TIME: According to tests commissioned by the consumer watchdog site Mamavation and the green group Environmental Health News, a random sampling of 18 popular brands of soft lenses sent to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified lab all tested positive for PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Also known as "forever chemicals"—because that's pretty much how long they linger in the environment—these persistent manufacturing chemicals exist in more than 12,000 forms, and have been linked by the EPA to a long list of health effects, including decreased fertility, high blood pressure in pregnant people, increased risk of certain cancers, developmental delays and low birthweight in children, hormonal disruption, high cholesterol, reduced effectiveness of the immune system, and more.

Not any level of PFAS exposure will lead to these health consequences, of course. And even heavy exposure does not necessarily mean that you're going to get sick; putting in your contact lenses every morning is not a sure road to cancer or high cholesterol. But enough of these ills have turned up in enough people exposed to PFAS that the EPA and the larger community of scientists are justifiably worried about them—especially because of their persistence in the environment.

"This entire class of chemicals is probably the most persistent class of manmade chemicals that have ever been made," says Scott Belcher, an associate professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University, who was a scientific advisor for the contact lens study. "Once they're there, they're not going away."

PFAS are included in uncounted products from clothing to furniture to pizza boxes to food wrappers to cooking utensils to electronics to fire-fighting foam to shoes and much, much more. The chemicals are used to make pots and pans non-stick; textiles more durable and stain resistant; food packaging resistant to grease; shoes and clothing water-resistant; and paper and cardboard stronger, among multiple other uses. So widespread is the planet's PFAS load that, according to one 2022 study in Environmental Science and Technology, the chemicals actually fall from the sky in rain, with the clouds having picked up PFAS in water evaporating from contaminated oceans.

"Every raindrop has PFAS in it," says Belcher. "It is really earth-shaking for me and eye-opening for folks."

For most people, however, everyday life inside their homes is where they're most likely to encounter PFAS on a regular basis. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some personal possessions and parts of your household that are exposing you to forever chemicals:

Body care products including shampoo, dental floss, toilet paper, tampons, and pads

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists many brands in these product categories as harboring PFAS, which are added to the products because the chemicals make them more durable, water resistant, or smoother spreading. But those qualities come at a price: some of the products, like dental floss and shampoo, are used in the mouth or near the eyes—mucus membranes that readily absorb contaminants. Multiple brands of both floss and shampoo now advertise themselves as PFAS-free, and the number of such products is growing.

In February, Mamavation and Environmental Health News conducted a study of PFAS in menstrual care products, including tampons, pads, sanitary napkins and period underwear, and found most of them contaminated to one degree or another with the forever chemicals. (Mamavation is not a scientific organization but a self-established wellness site, and Leah Segedie, its founder and editor, is not a scientist, but an author and consumer activist. Still, she conducts her PFAS studies only in conjunction with certified labs.)

In March, a study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters found PFAS in most brands of toilet paper sold around the world, a huge problem in the U.S. where over 19 billion lbs. of wastepaper are flushed away annually, posing a massive disposal and wastewater contamination problem. (A bidet eliminates the problem of toilet paper almost entirely, though most U.S. households are not equipped with them.)

Read full at time:

May 23, 2023

EU restricts PFAS in consumer products

Several regulatory actions are being taken to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in consumer products in the EU. These toxic substances are also known as "forever chemicals" due to their high persistence. Without the ability to degrade, their concentration in the environment will continue to increase. Exposure to these substances can have negative effects on both humans and the environment.

PFASs are a group of about 10,000 mainly man-made substances used in numerous applications in the EU. These applications include textiles, food packaging, lubricants, refrigerants, electronics, construction and many more.

In the EU, some PFAS are already regulated under REACH and POP legislation (see Table 1) and the SVHC list, while other groups are being proposed for restrictions (see Table 2).

he current larger proposals for restriction (see Table 3) will cover a greater number of substances with specific exemptions and different dates of entry into force for specific uses.

PFAS are defined as any substance that contains at least one fully fluorinated methyl (CF3-) or methylene (-CF2-) carbon atom without any H/Cl/Br/I attached to it.

A substance that only contains the following structural elements is excluded from the scope of the proposed restriction: -CF3-X or X-CF2-X', where X = -OR or -NRR' and X' = methyl (-CH3), methylene (-CH2-), an aromatic group, a carbonyl group (-C(O)-), -OR'', -SR'' or –NR''R''', and where R/R'/R''/R''' is a hydrogen (-H), methyl (-CH3), methylene (-CH2-), an aromatic group or a carbonyl group (-C(O)-).

Please read full by Roberta Canciello, senior technical specialist, Retail Consumer Products team, UL Solutions



Regulation (EU) 2019/1021 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on persistent organic pollutants (recast) (Text with EEA relevance)Text with EEA relevance

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2021/1297 of 4 August 2021 amending Annex XVII to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards perfluorocarboxylic acids containing 9 to 14 carbon atoms in the chain (C9-C14 PFCAs), their salts and C9-C14 PFCA-related substances

Persistent organic pollutants – perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS)

Registry of restriction intentions until outcome