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PFAS in the news

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…

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

By | PFAS in the news

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 | PFAS in the news

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 | PFAS in the news

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

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 | PFAS in the news

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…