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On January 22, Dr. Paustenbach, President of Paustenbach and Associates, received the Shubik award from the Toxicology Forum at the Forum’s annual meeting in Washington, DC. It is a lifetime achievement award given to those who have contributed significantly to the field of toxicology and risk assessment. In accepting the award, he discussed similarities between 2,3,7,8-TCDD (dioxin) and PFOS/PFOA; suggesting that the EPA should carefully reflect on what was learned from 20 years of study and debate about the dioxins when evaluating future issues related to perfluorinated compounds.
Dr. Paustenbach focused on the toxicological and epidemiological basis for the EPA’s proposed MCL for PFOA and PFOS. His presentation (attached) suggested that the currently available data are too unreliable and are yielding conflicting results insufficient to support an MCL of 4 ppt (parts per trillion). He discussed that this MCL had the potential to significantly, and adversely, impact the American economy and influence national security.
He noted that a 4 ppt MCL would impact the computer chip business, the pharmaceutical industry, the paper industry, biotech, cosmetics, and the automotive industry. He also mentioned that it could affect America’s international competitiveness. He said that various organizations predicted that the cost to water purveyors could be $300+ billion over the next 10 years (depending on how many water systems are considered out of compliance). He also mentioned that this cost was the tip of the iceberg since there were thousands of sites with contaminated groundwater in the United States alone. He predicted that PFAS issues would likely yield the largest and most economically impactful toxic tort litigation of the past 40 years.
He noted that several judges had already stated that the regulated community (including corporations and agencies within the federal government) could not possibly afford all of the claims that would be filed. Instead, some judges have noted that it would eventually be an additional economic burden for many citizens. Some groups have claimed that for drinking water to reach these goals, it might cost clients of water utilities (e.g., homeowners, apartment dwellers) between $1,000 and $10,000 per year in higher monthly water bills.
Paustenbach and Associates has been studying the PFAS chemical family for several years, and our scientists are prepared to assist clients faced with PFAS challenges.