The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a summit on water quality, specifically the chemicals PFOA and PFOS.

The chemicals have been used for nonstick coating and foam for firefighting, and they are turning up in drinking water around the country.

PFOA and PFOS are man-made chemicals used in the manufacturing process in scores of industries. They keep food from sticking to pots and pans, put out fires, they’re used in medical equipment, and now they’re in our drinking water.

“There are concerns across the country about these chemicals because of they’re persistence, their durability getting into the environment and impacting communities in an adverse way,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.

Pruitt says PFOA and PFOS are a national priority.

“It’s something that we as an agency look forward to contributing answers toward.”

“We need to rely on our public water supply as safe and our people deserve that,” Stephen Acquario, Executive Director General Counsel of the New York State Association of Counties, said.

Acquario says he wants to educate the public about the dangers of the chemicals.

“This is not an emerging contaminant. This is a contaminant that is known. We know it’s a problem in our state,” Acquario said.

Researchers say the chemicals are linked to a list of medical issues including birth and developmental defects

Pruitt says the EPA intends to take action by determining maximum safe levels for the chemicals, and by cleaning up groundwater at contaminated sites and determining who should pay for the cleanup.

Acquario says before a national management plan, the use of the chemicals should be regulated, so state and local governments and the industries better understand how to protect the environment and the public.

“What we did to discard of this or dispose of the byproduct of the manufacturing product – that’s the problem,” Acquario said. 

Acquario says he likes what he hears from Pruitt and the EPA so far and would like him to visit New York and Vermont where they have established this as a problem.