EnvironmentPollutionWater Management

New limits for PFAS and PFOA: 116 scientists against WHO

PFAS and PFOA are nicknamed “forever chemicals”

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – The new UN guidelines on PFAS and PFOA set excessively high limits and do not take into account many scientific studies that confirm the existence of negative effects of these chemicals on human health. This is supported by 116 scientists who are experts in these compounds in a letter addressed to the World Health Organization (WHO), in which they ask to deeply hand back to the provisional document that sets the recommended limits of concentration in drinking water.

The WHO document follows “a seemingly arbitrary approach” instead of one based on the defence of health and “does not take into account the solid evidence of damage to human health at environmentally relevant exposure levels“, the signatories note. The new limits protect human health less than is already possible today with the water purification technologies we have available, they add.

Poly and perfluorinated compounds and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFAS and PFOA) are chemicals widely recognized as harmful to health, which have the ability to persist in the environment – and therefore to accumulate in our bodies – to the point of being dubbed “forever chemicals”. So why set soft limits? Between the lines, scientists accuse the WHO of having yielded to the lobbyists of the chemical industry and of having set low limits, even lower than those already in force in some Western countries.

“As an authoritative body, the WHO should apply policies on conflicts of interest, so that those who have financial or other conflicts do not hold advisory, peer review or decision-making roles,” reads the letter. “We strongly urge the WHO to avoid any suggestion of possible lack of objectivity and ask that the WHO identify the names, affiliations and potential conflicts of interest of those involved in the preparation or in the peer-peer-review of this draft and any future WHO document”.

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