The WHO promotes political science. That is it’s raison d’être ( reason or justification for existence)
A draft World Health Organization analysis of the two most notorious “forever chemicals” disregards hundreds of health risk studies, claiming there are too many uncertainties to calculate a safe exposure level for the substances.
The two chemicals are PFOA, formerly used by DuPont to make Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard, both members of the class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
“Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality,” disregards WHO’s mission of putting public health first: It creates the potential for doubt about how PFOA and PFOS harm people. Instead, WHO emphasizes cutting the cost of removing the chemicals from water.
Across the globe, PFAS exposure is an urgent public health priority. Decades of widespread PFAS use have contaminated water, soil and animals in the farthest corners of the world. Today PFAS are found in the blood of virtually everyone, including newborn babies who are exposed when PFAS cross from the pregnant body to cord blood.
We know very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system, including reduced vaccine efficacy. These chemicals harm development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increase the risk of certain cancers; and affect metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain.
The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges these risks, recently proposing significantly stricter but non-binding advisories for levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water above which health harms could be expected following a lifetime of exposure.
The WHO draft sows unnecessary doubt where hard facts already exist. It resembles the tobacco and chemical industry playbook – raising already answered questions about legitimate scientific studies to create confusion over the risks of a particular substance. The draft says there are too many uncertainties about the science on PFOA and PFOS to know what level of exposure might be considered safe.
There are several aspects of the WHO report that are flawed and do not follow established risk assessment guidelines, leaving public health unprotected.
Instead of focusing on the health risks of PFAS, t
he WHO prioritizes discussion about how to minimize the cost of removing forever chemicals from contaminated water. This approach protects the polluting industries that have discharged PFAS for decades.
Not the least bit surprising coming from the WHO!
WHO is taking public comments on the draft document until November 11. A strong, unified response from public health advocates outlining the problems with the report is essential to correcting its numerous flaws and omissions. Only with these fixes can the report help ensure that health protection from PFAS stays a priority.