Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

July 2021

EPA must protect public health by regulating PFAS as a class

By PFAS in the news

A high-stakes debate is raging over a broad class of toxic chemicals that contaminate drinking water consumed by tens of millions of people. These chemicals — called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS) — can be found in the blood of nearly all Americans.

PFAS are ubiquitous and persistent. They are found in non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, fast-food containers, firefighting foams and numerous industrial applications. And PFAS chemicals pose significant risks to people’s immune, reproductive and hormonal systems, affect liver enzymes, raise cholesterol levels and increase risks of kidney and testicular cancer, among other health effects.

Today, there is rising alarm across the U.S. as cleanup costs skyrocket and more people in exposed communities worry about long-term threats to their health. Piecemeal efforts to manage PFAS are failing to address the growing crisis. Bolder solutions are called for, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the frontlines. Its new leadership is promising far-reaching action. What should the EPA do? Read more…

High concentrations of ‘forever’ chemicals being released from ice melt into the Arctic Ocean

By PFAS in the news

Known as ‘forever’ chemicals due to the fact they do not break down in the environment, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in a wide range of products and processes from fire proofing to stain resistant surfaces.

The Lancaster University study has found them in the surface seawater close to melting Arctic ice floes at concentrations of up to two times higher than levels observed in the North Sea, even though the region of the Barents Sea under investigation was thousands of kilometers from populated parts of Europe.

The research has shown these chemicals have traveled not by sea, but through the atmosphere, where they accumulate in Arctic sea ice. Because Arctic ice is melting more quickly than before, these harmful chemicals are efficiently released into surrounding seawater resulting in some very high concentrations. Read more…

‘Bombshell’ report: DOD failed to protect troops from PFAS

By PFAS in the news

The Department of Defense waited five years to warn military members about the dangers of PFAS and potential contamination, according to a new report issued by government watchdogs on Friday.

The report represents the first time the department’s inspector general has acknowledged that DOD failed to act when it knew the risks of contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, said Scott Faber, the Environmental Working Group’s senior vice president for government affairs.

“This is a bombshell,” Faber said. “DOD, in violation of its own policies, failed to act and needlessly caused service members and their families to drink polluted water for many more years than they should have.”

The Department of Defense first issued a risk alert about the use of PFAS to firefighters in 2011. But it wasn’t until 2016 that the department began to take action to mitigate the health effects of PFAS contamination, largely for the firefighters who encountered the chemicals through aqueous film-forming foam. Read more…

Efforts underway in Europe to ban PFAS compounds

By PFAS in the news

There is significant movement afoot to ban per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in Europe – a class of persistent, highly mobile and potentially toxic compounds. The governments of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway have announced that by July 2022 they will formally propose to the European Chemicals Agency (Echa) that these chemicals be restricted under Reach (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) legislation.

The proposal aims to prohibit the production, marketing and use of these substances throughout Europe. Exceptions will be considered for certain established uses, such as medical applications. After summer 2022, Echa’s scientific bodies and socio-economic analysis committee will assess the Reach restriction dossier and deliver an opinion by 2023. A final agreement by EU member states could be possible as early as 2025.

PFASs are used in a wide range of products including fire-fighting foams, non-stick cookware and water-resistant fabrics. Read more…

Water contamination at Pease: PFAS health study gets $15 million secured by Shaheen

By PFAS in the news

PORTSMOUTH – U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen secured an additional $15 million to continue funding the first-ever national PFAS health study as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The study, which includes a pilot study for members of the Pease community who were exposed to dangerous PFAS in contaminated water, was created through legislation passed by Shaheen.

Shaheen’s efforts have previously led to the authorization of $45 million for the study. Read more…

House passes PFAS bill for federal drinking water standards

By PFAS in the news

A bill setting a timeline for PFAS chemicals in drinking water passed the House in a 241-183 floor vote Wednesday.

The measure giving the Environmental Protection Agency two years to set federal limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances now moves to the Senate.

Middletown Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, was one of just 23 Republican members voting in support of the bill.

The PFAS Action Act of 2021, introduced by Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell, of Michigan, is the latest in a series of efforts to regulate the so-called “forever chemicals.”

The family of unregulated chemicals gained their notorious nickname because the substances can remain in a person’s bloodstream for years or decades. Read more… 

Are we being kept safe from ‘forever chemicals’ injected into fracking sites?

By PFAS in the news, PFAS-REACH team news

Not willing to rest their laurels on the theft of the future, the fossil fuel industry is now salting the earth with forever chemicals.

In a bombshell exposé from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the New York Times last week it was revealed that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were readily used at fracking sites across the US.

PFAS never break down, a disconcerting fact that has led many to call them “forever chemicals”. Such durability comes with surprising mobility as these chemicals have proven preternaturally gifted at gliding through geological and geographic borders with ease. Oh, and they are toxic.

None of these worrisome properties proved sufficient to dissuade the fossil fuel industry from injecting PFAS into at least 1,200 fracking wells in the United States, including in states where wastewater from oil and gas operations is routinely sprayed on roads and farms. Read more…

UPDATE: Detection of toxic PFAS chemicals increases to 2,790 communities

By PFAS in the news

WASHINGTON – The toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS have now been detected in nearly 2,800 communities, including 2,411 drinking water systems and 328 military installations, according to an analysis by the Environmental Working Group.

Previously, EWG confirmed the presence of PFAS in 2,377 locations, and the new findings highlight the growing and widespread problem of the toxic substances.

The latest detections are based on new testing completed in AlabamaIllinoisMaineMarylandMassachusettsNew JerseyNew YorkSouth Carolina and Vermont. Read more…

Governor Lamont Signs Legislation Banning Use Of PFAS-Containing Firefighting Foam in October, Phases Out PFAS-Containing Food Packaging In 2023

By PFAS in the news

(WINDSOR, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today held a bill signing ceremony at the edge of the Farmington River in Windsor to commemorate the adoption of a new state law banning the use of firefighting foam and food packaging that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Commonly known as PFAS, the large group of man-made “forever chemicals” are used in a variety of materials and products around the world.

Specifically, the new law, Public Act 21-191, An Act Concerning the Use of PFAS Substances in Class B Firefighting Foam, bans the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam, or “AFFF,” effective October 1, 2021. Effective immediately, AFFF is not permitted for use in training activities. Additionally, the law also phases out PFAS-containing food packaging by 2023, which makes clear to the food and packaging industries the state’s desire for safe packaging and provides time to those industries to develop safe alternatives.

It furthers two key goals of Governor Lamont’s 2019 PFAS Action Plan: minimizing future releases of PFAS to the environment, and minimizing human health risk for Connecticut residents caused by PFAS. The action plan was developed by the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force, which was established in 2019 by Governor Lamont and led by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health, with assistance from many other agencies, including the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. It was convened one month after the accidental release of PFAS from an aircraft hangar at Bradley International Airport, and three months before the tragic B-17 crash that occurred at Bradley in which PFAS-containing foam was used to put out the resulting fire. Read more…

House Democrats set vote on sweeping PFAS bill

By PFAS in the news

The House will vote this week on the most aggressive pending legislation targeting “forever chemicals” as its bipartisan proponents seek additional Republican support.

H.R. 2467, the “PFAS Action Act,” would escalate a federal crackdown on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and ramp up pressure on EPA to take action on the controversial family of chemicals. The House Committee on Rules will meet today to set parameters for debate on the bill.

Co-sponsored by Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, the bill is among the most significant actions on PFAS likely to be considered this year. In comments made last week at a PFAS-focused conference hosted by the Environmental Working Group, Dingell argued that passing her bill is a matter of urgency (Greenwire, July 15).

“Here’s a reality: We do not have another minute to waste,” she said. “We have to act, now.”

Under the legislation, both PFOA and PFOS — the two most researched PFAS — would be promptly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. They would also be designated as hazardous substances under federal Superfund law, in addition to a variety of other measures. Read more…