Washington DC - The chemical compounds are all around you.
They’re on many fabrics, rugs and carpets, cooking pots and pans, outdoor gear, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup and even dental floss.
Increasing numbers of states have found them seeping into water supplies.
There’s growing evidence that long-term exposure to the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, can be dangerous, even in tiny amounts.
The Environmental Protection Agency is looking at how to respond to a public push for stricter regulation of the chemicals, in production since the 1940s.
A decision is expected soon.
At hearings around the country last year, local and state officials asked the agency to set a maximum level for PFAS in drinking water nationwide.
It will take that, officials said, to stop contamination and hold polluting parties responsible.
But it’s more than a U.S. problem.
In Europe, Australia, Asia and elsewhere, regulators and consumers are confronting discoveries of PFAS contamination, especially around U.S. military bases, where they’re used in firefighting foam.