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DIGGING DEEPER: What are PFAS?

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ENDICOTT (WBNG) -- After the Department of Environmental Conservation raised concern about the possibility of a chemical group called PFAS being present in batteries recycled at SungEel's proposed recycling facility, you may have wondered what exactly PFAS are.

12 News is digging deeper to help you understand what the chemicals are, as SungEel plans to submit new permit information to the DEC addressing PFAS.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, stands for a group of chemicals used on many different types of things you probably use everyday, like nonstick pans and furniture.

According to the DEC, their purpose is to make a coating that can help products resist heat, oil and water.

The chemicals are also known to be in some lithium ion batteries, which is why the DEC is asking sungeel to provide some additional information about its process.

The DEC says their toxicity and persistence in the environment make PFAS "A potential danger to public health and the environment."

The New York Department of Health has reports out showing that human exposure to PFAS can have several chronic, developmental and reproductive effects.

The NYDEC said in a statement to 12 News:

"DEC takes seriously any potential threats to public health and the environment and conducts rigorous, science-based reviews of permit applications to ensure all permits meet New York State’s stringent requirements to protect our communities. DEC took immediate action to ensure that the facility operations involving PFAS would receive a comprehensive review, including requiring SungEel to apply for a permit modification if any PFAS-containing batteries were processed at Endicott. SungEel has provided some preliminary information regarding PFAS emissions to DEC, but has not submitted a complete response to DEC's May 2020 letter, including the necessary  permit application. Any proposed permit modifications would include a SEQR review, with the type of environmental impact review determined after application materials and SEQR forms are submitted to DEC. DEC remains committed to continuing to keep residents and local officials informed throughout this process and using the best available science to ensure the utmost protection of residents."

Chloe Vincente

Chloe Vincente is an Evening News Anchor at 12 News.

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