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Monthly Archives

August 2021

Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Contaminate Indoor Air at Worrying Levels, Study Finds

By PFAS in the news

“Toxic PFAS compounds are contaminating the air inside homes, classrooms and stores at alarming levels, a new study has found.

Researchers with the University of Rhode Island and Green Science Policy Institute tested indoor air at 20 sites and detected the ‘forever chemicals’ in 17 locations. The airborne compounds are thought to break off of PFAS-treated products such as carpeting and clothing and attach to dust or freely float through the indoor environment.

Experts previously considered food and water to be the two main routes by which humans are exposed to PFAS, but the study’s authors note that many humans spend about 90% of their time indoors, and the findings suggest that breathing in the chemicals probably represents a third significant exposure route. Read more…

FDA Finds PFAS in Fish Sticks, Tuna and Protein Powder

By PFAS in the news

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it detected PFAS chemicals in three of 167 nationally distributed processed foods tested for toxic PFAS chemicals.

PFAS are a family of thousands of manmade chemicals used since the 1940s to produce industrial products resistant to water, oil, grease and stains.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of testicular and kidney cancer, tissue damage in the liver and multiple changes to the immune system and thyroid.

The agency tested the products for more than a dozen of thousands of PFAS chemicals, finding detectable levels in samples of fish sticks, canned tuna and protein powder. Read more…

Congress Presses Forward on PFAS Measures

By PFAS in the news

“In the face of accelerating EPA and state regulatory activity on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (‘PFAS’)[i], Congress is pressing forward with measures that would address or impose limitations on these ‘forever chemicals.’ More than thirty such legislative measures are currently pending in Congress covering a number of subjects related to PFAS including, but not limited to, those involving military uses, funding assistance, detection and research, product stewardship, site remediation, and regulatory mandates. Of these, the most comprehensive initiative, and the subject of significant public attention, is the PFAS Action Act of 2021[ii], passed by the House last month by a vote of 241-183 with twenty-three Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in supporting the bill. The measure is now pending in the Senate before the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. While the path forward for this bill in the Senate may be uncertain, it is important to bear in mind that the PFAS provisions of this proposed legislation may be incorporated into other measures such as those addressing infrastructure[iii], spending or defense. Read more…

New Report Finds Harmful PFAS Chemicals in Drinking Water Throughout California

By PFAS in the news

SAN FRANCISCO – A new report out today finds that drinking water throughout California is contaminated with harmful PFAS chemicals, particularly in already heavily polluted communities. The report is titled “Dirty Water: Toxic ‘Forever’ PFAS Chemical Are Prevalent in the Drinking Water of Environmental Justice Communities.”  

Of particular concern is the finding that PFAS pollution is prominent in communities that are overburdened by multiple sources of pollution and by other factors that make them more sensitive to pollution, compounding the impacts to residents’ health and safety.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), along with Community Water Center, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles, and Clean Water Action published the report, using the State’s data sources. Read more…

Air Force Refusing To Pay For PFAS Contamination Of Mashpee Wells

By PFAS in the news

The US Air Force is refusing to reimburse Mashpee Water District taxpayers for treatment of two wells with levels of contamination from Joint Base Cape Cod that exceed Massachusetts drinking water standards.

The water district sent a demand letter to the Air Force in May after voters approved an estimated $8.5 million filtration system to remove PFAS contaminants from drinking water supplies on Turner Road.

PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because they never fully degrade, are a class of manmade chemicals that have been linked to low infant birth weights, suppression of the immune system and cancer.

The use of firefighting foams at Joint Base Cape Cod more than two decades ago is the known source of several plumes of PFAS contamination that have infiltrated numerous wells on the Upper Cape, including the two Turner Road wells. Read more…

Beyond paper, part 2: PFAS intentionally used to make plastic food packaging

By PFAS in the news

Since 2002, FDA has authorized the use of three types of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) to make plastic food packaging, one as recently as 2016. The PFAS are allowed in plastic at levels up to 2000 parts per million (ppm); although lower than those used to greaseproof paper, these levels still contaminate food. The PFAS are added to facilitate the production of articles such as bottles and wraps. They reportedly improve polymer extrusion, reduce build-up on the injection mold, and improve surface roughness among other technical effects.

Since 2002, FDA has authorized the use of three types of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) to make plastic food packaging, one as recently as 2016. The PFAS are allowed in plastic at levels up to 2000 parts per million (ppm); although lower than those used to greaseproof paper, these levels still contaminate food. The PFAS are added to facilitate the production of articles such as bottles and wraps. They reportedly improve polymer extrusion, reduce build-up on the injection mold, and improve surface roughness among other technical effects.

These plastic processing aids, along with fluorinated polyethylene, are the latest additions to a growing list of sources of ‘forever chemicals’ in the diet. They join environmental contamination and greaseproofed paper and cardboard as sources that food companies must consider in order to keep PFAS out of their products and respond to consumer demand for safer food. Given the evidence, FDA needs to move forward pursuant to our June 2021 citizens petition to evaluate the safety of PFAS taking into account the cumulative effect of these chemicals in the diet from many sources. Read more…

FDA raises alarm over PFAS-tainted food containers

By PFAS in the news

The same types of plastic containers EPA blamed for pesticides contaminated with PFAS may also be used to store food, raising alarm bells at the Food and Drug Administration.

At issue are fluorinated containers made of high-density polyethylene, a material widely used in food packaging because it can easily seal out moisture and other temperature changes. The packaging is generally used during the manufacturing process to hold large quantities of ingredients like oils or flavorings.

This spring, EPA determined that such containers were responsible for contaminating pesticides with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals” and linked to thyroid disease and cancer even at very low levels.

Now, FDA is warning the food industry that unlawful fluorination processes for similar containers could be contaminating food with PFAS, too. Read more…

PFAS: fears over lax US standards prompts bill on beauty products’ safety

By PFAS in the news

Earlier this summer, a new study found that more than half of 231 cosmetic products tested in the US and Canada contained PFAS, a group of fluorinated chemicals that can weaken immunity, disrupt child development, affect the reproductive system and increase the chance of certain cancers. Whereas Europe has kept a tighter rein on what chemicals can and cannot be included in everyday products, the US’s standards are now over 80 years old.

Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) have reintroduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a piece of legislation that would require companies to disclose all the ingredients used in their products, be able to demonstrate their safety and register their entities with the FDA.

The bill was first introduced in 2015 but failed to pass. This year, with renewed interest in consumer safety and greater awareness about PFAS, Feinstein and Collins are making the case again with the support of industry giants like Unilever, Procter and Gamble, the Estée Lauder Group, Revlon, Beautycounter and Johnson and Johnson backing the legislation. Read more…

PFAS Testing of Wells in Truro and Wellfleet Set to Begin

By PFAS in the news, PFAS-REACH team news

Testing for the presence of PFAS — compounds linked to a broad array of harmful health effects — is set to begin in Wellfleet and Truro. The testing is part of a program being offered by the state’s Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP). Massachusetts began to regulate PFAS only last fall.

The DEP program focuses on 84 communities where more than 60 percent of residents are served by private wells. That’s because PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been found to seep into soils, groundwater, and surface water.

Known as “forever chemicals” because they never completely degrade, these compounds are manmade and date back to the 1950s. They are present in some of the foams firefighters use to put out flammable liquid fires, in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and many other everyday items. Read more…

Portsmouth’s Haven well to supply water again, 7 years after PFAS contamination found

By PFAS in the news

PORTSMOUTH – City officials have announced plans to bring the Haven well back online this week, seven years after it was shut down because of the presence of toxic PFAS chemicals in the water.

The city received permission from the N.H. Department of Environmental Services “for the reactivation of the Haven well,” after the upgraded Pease Water Treatment Facility – which was designed to remove PFAS from city water sources – became fully operational earlier this year.

DES said “laboratory results provided as part of the request (to bring the Haven well online) demonstrates the finished water quality while treating the Haven well is in compliance with current standards, including non-detect levels of PFAS.” Read more…