New research suggests that the recommended safe levels of perfluorinated chemicals be lowered significantly from current U.S. EPA levels. The study was conducted and published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The study found that the lowest safe level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in drinking water is 12 parts per trillion, over 80 percent lower than the current EPA threshold of 70 parts per trillion. The study found probable links between elevated levels of PFOA and PFOS and six medical conditions: kidney cancer, testicular cancer, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease and preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure).

“This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor at non-partisan Environmental Working Group (EWG). “We urge EPA to collect and publish all water results showing PFAS contamination at any level, so Americans across the country can take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families.”

The study’s release comes on the heels of controversy generated after news surfaced last month that a White House official had warned in January that releasing the report would be a "potential public relations nightmare.”

On May 22, EWG released a report finding that tens of millions of Americans may be drinking tap water contaminated with PFAS levels of greater than 5 parts per trillion.

PFAS compounds are common in nonstick cookware; as stain repellents and hydrophilic water-resistant coatings; and as additives in paint, coatings and polishes. They are also commonly found in firefighting foams and are sometimes used as hydraulic fluids.