Leavenworth PFAS Community Engagement will be Sept. 5. Working Session begins at 1 p.m. Listening Session begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Community Center, 123 S. Esplanade. In this Q5, Enesta Jones, who is with the Environmental Protection Agency, talks about the importance of these sessions for local community members.

Leavenworth PFAS Community Engagement will be Sept. 5. Working Session begins at 1 p.m. Listening Session begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Riverfront Community Center, 123 S. Esplanade. In this Q5, Enesta Jones, who is with the Environmental Protection Agency, talks about the importance of these sessions for local community members.

Enesta, what are PFAS, and why is the Environmental Protection Agency visiting Leavenworth Sept. 5 to talk to community members about PFAS actions? When were PFAS introduced in the U.S. and when were they phased out? Why are we still in danger if they are no longer used in manufacturing here?
This event will allow EPA to provide important information to the public on the agency’s PFAS actions and to hear directly from heartland communities, states, local governments and tribes about their experiences with PFAS.
PFAS,  (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a diverse group of compounds resistant to heat, water, and oil). They have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. Certain PFAS chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States as a result of phase-outs including the PFOA Stewardship Program in which eight major chemical manufacturers agreed to eliminate the use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals in their products and as emissions from their facilities. Although PFOA and PFOS are no longer manufactured in the United States, they are still produced internationally and can be imported into the United States in consumer goods such as carpet, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging, coatings, rubber and plastics.

How many sessions will there be and what type of sessions will be offered. Will they be open to the public? How can people register to attend and can they also register to be speakers?
The Kansas community engagement event will consist of two sessions – a public listening session and a PFAS working session. Both sessions are open to the public and press. For those that are interested in attending the event, please register at www.epa.gov/pfas/forms/pfas-community-engagement-leavenworth-kansas

Why is addressing PFAS a priority for the EPA and what actions are the agency taking?
EPA is moving expeditiously on the following actions:
1. EPA will initiate steps to evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS. We will convene our federal partners and examine everything we know about PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
2. EPA is beginning the necessary steps to propose designating PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including potentially CERCLA Section 102.
3. EPA is currently developing groundwater cleanup recommendations for PFOA and PFOS at contaminated sites and will complete this task by fall of this year.
4. EPA is taking action in close collaboration with our federal and state partners to develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS by this summer.
 
How are people exposed to PFAS and what are the health risks associated with them?
PFAS are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants.
Most people have been exposed to PFAS. Certain PFAS can accumulate and stay in the human body for long periods of time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.
The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals.
Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals.

How many people has the EPA engaged at the community events and what have they said about their personal experiences in their communities? After the docket closes Sept. 28, what will the EPA do to help states, tribes and local communities address challenges associated with PFAS?
At these events EPA has engaged with almost 1,000 individuals, including more than 150 who delivered remarks about their personal experiences in their communities.
The agency has also received more than 60,000 comments through the docket. For detailed responses, visit www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0270
Using information from the national summit, community engagements and the public docket, EPA plans to develop a national management plan for release this year.

– Rimsie McConiga