For federal and state lawmakers who have an unending procession of meeting requests, committee hearings, markups, fundraisers, and other demands on their schedules, time is perhaps the most valuable finite resource. For these reasons, what legislators choose to focus on is just as important as their policy preferences and positions.
Given the scarcity of time had by government officials, lawmakers’ recent focus, both at the state and federal levels, on a group of chemicals, has struck many as misplaced and unnecessarily costly while others feel quite the opposite. Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, widely referred to by the acronym PFAS, are “a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties,” explains the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which points out that there “are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others.”
The desire to regulate, and possibly prohibit, the use of PFAS chemicals is primarily based on concerns over water contamination. Yet the EPA does not list PFAS among the main threats to water quality. According to the CDC, “human health effects from exposure to low environmental levels of PFAS are uncertain.” Additionally, recent reports show that bodies of water contain only trace amounts of PFAS and have been declining. State and federal legislators are moving forward with new regulations and even total bans on certain PFAS chemicals despite the uncertainty surrounding potential health threats posed by PFAS chemicals, or even an agreement as to which chemical compounds fall under the PFAS umbrella.
Forbes, 14 February 2022