EPA wants to regulate dangerous “forever chemicals” found in items like pizza boxes, non-stick pans and cleaning products

Erin McDowell / Insider

  • Forever, chemicals cannot break down and linger in soil, water and air.

  • Many household items contain chemicals forever, including non-stick cookware and cleaning products.

  • EPA administrator Michael Regan outlined the government’s plan to tackle PFAS until 2024.

The Biden administration and the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Monday a broad federal effort to protect Americans from perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, a group of man-made chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems like cancer and thyroid disease, The New York Times reported.

Used in industry and consumer products around the world, PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their inability to decompose, causing them to linger in the environment and migrate. in soil, water and air, according to the Agency for Toxics. Substance and Disease Registry.

“To protect public health and protect the environment, the announced efforts will help prevent PFAS from being released into the air, watering systems and food supply, and actions will expand clean-up efforts to address to the impacts of these harmful pollutants, ”a White House fact sheet said.

The ATSDR lists a variety of household items that contain chemicals forever, including:

  • Certain grease resistant papers, fast food containers and wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes and candy wrappers

  • Non-stick cookware

  • Stain resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery and other fabrics

  • Water resistant clothing

  • Cleaners

  • Personal care products (shampoo, dental floss) and cosmetics (nail polish, eye makeup)

  • Paints, varnishes and sealants

As part of the announcement, EPA Administrator Michael Regan outlined steps the federal government will take to mitigate the effects of PFAS, such as polluter accountability, contamination prevention and investment in more scientific research on the effects of chemicals.

“We can only progress if we work closely with tribes, states, localities and stakeholders to adopt solutions that follow science and stand the test of time. To affect meaningful change, the commitment, transparency and accountability will be essential as we move forward, ”Regan said in the PFAS strategic roadmap.

Other federal agencies involved in efforts to regulate and limit exposure to PFAS include the Department of Defense, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Council of the White House on environmental quality; and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a White House backgrounder.

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