Lawmakers Go After Companies For Putting Toxic PFAS Chemicals In Drinking Water

Lawmakers in Congress are taking manufacturing companies to task over dangerous PFAS chemicals that have contaminated drinking water in every state in the country.

For decades, these chemicals have been used by companies such as 3M Company, the Chemours Company and DuPont in the manufacture of several products from non-stick pans, water repellent, firefighting foam, and cosmetics among many others.

As a result, these chemicals have ended up in our drinking water and have been linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid issues, and even infertility, making them some of the worst chemicals a human can ingest, especially since they build up inside our bodies over time.

Of course, these companies continue to deny that these chemicals are dangerous despite scientific studies showing otherwise and their records betraying them.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

A significant body of scientific evidence demonstrates that both PFOA and PFOS, which have been phased out of production in the U.S., as well as the PFAS chemicals that have replaced them, cause harm to the environment and human health, even at low levels. It is encouraging that levels of PFOA and PFOS measured in blood are decreasing, but that does not mean current levels are safe. Moreover, other PFAS chemicals have also been detected in human blood and other organs.

Exposure to PFAS at even the lowest concentrations has been shown to harm human health and puts people in communities with contaminated drinking water at risk. Recent science suggests that newer PFAS chemicals may be just as toxic and harder to treat as those that were phased out.

The chemicals are especially prevalent at military bases, airports and industrial facilities, which have been measured as having the highest concentrations. An estimated 110 million Americans have been exposed to PFAS chemicals, and because PFAS do not break down in the environment, people can still be poisoned by them today by chemicals dumped decades ago.

The companies claim that because two PFAS chemicals have been removed, everything is okay. The problem is that there are thousands of PFAS chemicals.

Contaminated sites rarely contain only one or two PFAS. Recent testing of 25 public water systems by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey found a complex mixture of different PFAS chemicals in all the systems, indicating that Americans are exposed to many different PFAS in drinking water. PFAS was detected in all systems, indicating that Americans are exposed to a complex mixture of different PFAS chemicals.

Again, even company documents show that they knew the potential harm these chemicals could pose to humans.

An EWG analysis of industry documents, released in lawsuits against 3M and DuPont, show that animal studies conducted by the companies revealed as early as the 1960s that PFAS chemicals could pose health risks. Additional internal memos, studies and other company documents demonstrate that these companies have long been aware of the risks from PFAS chemicals.

Our drinking water is already contaminated by lead and nitrates and many other substances that do not belong in it. These other pervasive chemicals, however, make it clearer than ever that corporations don’t care as long as they profit.

Clearly, these companies must answer for this outrage, and that’s why Congress hauled them into a House Oversight Committee hearing earlier this month.

“You have played a part in this national emergency. You have sickened our first responders and members of the military, and I don’t know how you sleep at night,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) said.

“We have a huge problem in this country,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) added. “There’s plenty of science out there that demonstrates these are harmful chemicals and dangerous to human consumption or you wouldn’t have taken them off the market in the first place.”

“The cleanup has to happen,” Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) said. “This to me is a non-option.”

The lawmakers are using the hearings as part of their effort to draw up legislation to deal with the chemicals and clean-ups to remove them from our water supply.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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