Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

July 2021

Seattle study of breast milk from 50 women finds chemical used in food wrappers, firefighting foam

By Uncategorized

In August 2019, Vera Harrington put a quarter cup of her breast milk into the refrigerator. She gave this milk not to her daughter, Flora, but a team of researchers investigating a pervasive class of chemicals that have found their way into humans all over the world.

These chemicals are called Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — and have been used over the decades in products ranging from firefighting foams to cosmetics, nonstick pans, rain gear, stain-protected sofas, some types of fast food wrappers and even dental floss.

Harrington, who lives in an Eastlake town house in Seattle, was one of 50 Puget Sound area first-time mothers who participated in the study. This past April, she got the results, which documented nine types of PFAS in her breast milk. Read more…

Michigan Professor Looks For Environmental Justice In Federal PFAS Guidance

By Uncategorized

A Michigan State University philosophy professor is on a federal committee charged with drafting guidance for doctors about a group of chemicals called PFAS.

Kevin Elliott, who holds an array of positions at MSU, acknowledged that philosophy is not the first discipline that comes to mind for most people when thinking about who should be guiding policy around per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which have been linked to cancer and developmental problems.

But Elliott said chemistry and philosophy go together. His job on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine panel is to think about how PFAS chemicals have disparate impacts on different groups of people. Read more…

Groundbreaking PFAS Bills in Maine

By Uncategorized

Augusta, Maine, July 15 – Products containing toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ will no longer be allowed in Maine by 2030, unless the chemicals’ uses have been specifically designated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as currently unavoidable. LD 1503, which became law today, is a significant step forward for Maine, but also provides a national model for policymakers to eliminate all but the “essential” uses of PFAS in products.

“For over two years, Mainers have been learning about the devastation PFAS caused Fred Stone, the Toziers, and countless families with contaminated farmland and drinking water. Today, we are seeing State policymakers forcefully respond,” said Patrick MacRoy, Deputy Director of Defend Our Health, a public health organization that worked with both experts and community advocates to promote the legislation. “I am proud to see Maine taking action that will change the conversation on how PFAS are regulated, not only addressing the entire class, but creating the requirement to avoid these persistent and toxic chemicals wherever possible.”

While the conversation on PFAS in Maine has often been centered around contamination in drinking water and soil, much of that contamination starts with consumer products that contain PFAS. Toxic PFAS are used in every day products such as cookware, clothing, food packaging, textiles, and car seats. Exposure to small amount of certain PFAS have been associated with numerous health issues, including certain cancers, harm to the immune system that dampens the effectiveness of vaccines, and increased cholesterol levels. Read more…

EPA Proposes Listing PFAS As Drinking Water Contaminants

By PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news, PFAS in the news

On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included a category of chemicals known as PFAS in a new draft list of water contaminants.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of more than 4,700 man-made chemicals, and they can be found in household products, like non-stick pans, rain jackets, candy wrappers, and pizza boxes. They’re also known as “forever chemicals,” since they stick around for a very long time—including in the human body. They can also cause health problems.

The EPA is proposing to include PFAS in its list of water contaminants, and that lays the groundwork for potential regulation down the road. Read more…

Firefighters face hurdles in quest for PFAS-free gear

By PFAS in the news

Firefighters want the option to wear protective gear that doesn’t contain toxic chemicals. The only problem? The very garment manufacturers whose gear contains PFAS sit on the standard-setting committee they must convince.

Firefighters have grown increasingly concerned with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their “turnout gear” — firefighters’ personal protective equipment — over the past year because the chemicals are highly toxic and linked to a wide variety of health problems even at very low levels. They include cancer, which is the biggest line-of-duty cause of death within the fire service, due to toxic smoke encountered when battling blazes.

But purchasing turnout gear without PFAS is nearly impossible because rules from the National Fire Protection Association require some fabrics used in the gear to withstand 40 consecutive hours of harsh ultraviolet light, and only textiles containing PFAS are able to pass that test (Greenwire, Feb. 16). Read more…

DuPont, Spinoffs to Pay $50M for ‘Forever Chemical’ Cleanup

By Uncategorized

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — DuPont Co. and two spinoffs will pay at least $50 million to Delaware to help clean up toxic chemicals, the Delaware Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

It’s the first time the state’s Department of Justice has resolved environmental damage claims on behalf of the state, news outlets report. The settlement will pay for environmental restoration, improvement, sampling and analysis, community environmental justice and equity grants, and other natural resource needs, the department said.

DuPont and Corteva, previously the agriculture division of DowDuPont, will each contribute $12.5 million. Chemours, DuPont’s former performance chemicals unit, will contribute $25 million. The three companies reached a cost-sharing agreement earlier this year. They will fund up to an additional $25 million if they settle similar claims with other states for more than $50 million. Read more…

E.P.A. Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking a Decade Ago, New Files Show

By Uncategorized

For much of the past decade, oil companies engaged in drilling and fracking have been allowed to pump into the ground chemicals that, over time, can break down into toxic substances known as PFAS — a class of long-lasting compounds known to pose a threat to people and wildlife — according to internal documents from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The E.P.A. in 2011 approved the use of these chemicals, used to ease the flow of oil from the ground, despite the agency’s own grave concerns about their toxicity, according to the documents, which were reviewed by The New York Times. The E.P.A.’s approval of the three chemicals wasn’t previously publicly known.

The records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by a nonprofit group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, are among the first public indications that PFAS, long-lasting compounds also known as “forever chemicals,” may be present in the fluids used during drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Read more…

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating plastic food containers

By Uncategorized

Many of the world’s plastic containers and bottles are contaminated with toxic PFAS, and new data suggests that it’s probably leaching into food, drinks, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and other items at potentially high levels.

It’s difficult to say with precision how many plastic containers are contaminated and what it means for consumers’ health because regulators and industry have done very little testing or tracking until this year, when the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the chemicals were leaching into a mosquito pesticide. One US plastic company reported “fluorinating” – or effectively adding PFAS to – 300m containers in 2011.

But public health advocates say new revelations suggest that the compounds are much more ubiquitous than previously thought, and fluorinated plastic containers, especially those used with food, probably represent a major new exposure point to PFAS. Read more…

Beyond paper: PFAS linked to common plastic packaging used for food, cosmetics, and much more

By Uncategorized

Results from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation into PFAS-contaminated pesticides have much broader, concerning implications for food, cosmetics, shampoos, household cleaning products, and other consumer products, as well as recycling. This investigation, first announced earlier this year, found that fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers used for pesticide storage contained a mix of short and long-chain per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), including PFOA, that leached into the product. From what EPA can tell, the PFAS were not intentionally added to the HDPE containers but are hypothesized to have been produced when fluorine gas was applied to the plastic.

Since EPA released its investigation, we have learned the disturbing fact that the fluorination of plastic is commonly used to treat hundreds of millions of polyethylene and polypropylene containers each year ranging from packaged food and consumer products that individuals buy to larger containers used by retailers such as restaurants to even larger drums used by manufacturers to store and transport fluids. Read more…

Northeastern University Expert Recommends State Task Force Test Blood For Chemical Contaminant PFAS

By PFAS-REACH team news

Offering blood testing for people in areas exposed to PFAS, additional funds for statewide research, education, and surveillance, and passing laws restricting the use of certain firefighting foam and food packaging were all part of a set of recommendations a top academic expert offered this week to a state task force investigating the impact of the chemicals in Massachusetts.

The advice, offered by Northeastern University Social Science Director Environmental Health Research Institute Director Dr. Phil Brown, comes as state legislators and stakeholders take a deep dive into the effect of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, on public health and the environment.

During a Tuesday morning hearing, members of the PFAS Interagency Task Force — co-chaired by Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Kate Hogan — focused on water and ground contamination ahead of issuing a report by Dec. 31. Read more…