Stopping human and animal exposure to PFAS would mean taking on massive chemical conglomerates like 3M, DuPont, and the military-industrial complex in court, which has proven to be a tremendously expensive and steeply uphill battle.
WASHINGTON — Despite widespread evidence of the long-term danger and devastating consequences, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has continued approving new versions of a family of industrial chemicals known as perfluoroalkyls or PFAS.
Publicly, the EPA has condemned the use of PFAS and supported efforts to curb the public health crisis the chemicals pose, while claiming to prioritize decontamination efforts.
Quietly, however, the EPA has approved 112 new PFAS-related compounds to be imported into or manufactured inside the United States since 2002 — even after being made aware of the dire health risks.
What is PFAS?
PFAS is a chemical family with a broad range of applications in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, cosmetics, stain-resistant upholstery, and fire-fighting foam.
These chemicals are notoriously difficult — if not impossible — to remove with filtration or other methods once they’ve entered a water supply. Once it enters the bloodstream of a human or animal, it takes the body four years to rid itself of just half of the PFAS (assuming no more is consumed during this time).
This has triggered a national health crisis that local governments haven’t done much to combat.
Upon entering the body, PFAS chemicals have a negative effect on reproductive hormones, thyroid hormones, cholesterol levels, fertility, the liver, and the immune system. Researchers also believe ingesting high levels of PFAS chemicals directly contributes to obesity.
Another Public Water Crisis
Michigan can’t seem to catch a break in terms of water quality.
With the state still reeling from the Flint water crisis, water shutoffs, and lead in the water of Detroit schools, PFAS now threatens more Michiganders’ access to drinking water. Local authorities have also warned against consuming fish caught in water contaminated by PFAS.
Thirty-one sites in 15 different Michigan communities face the threat of PFAS contamination — mostly near military bases. Manufacturer 3M also faces a lawsuit from the state of Michigan due to its prior knowledge of PFAS contamination dangers and disregard for public health.
Michigan’s outgoing Republican governor, Rick Snyder, publicly supported these efforts in an attempt to save face after his government’s corruption allowed the city of Flint to become contaminated with lead.
In West Virginia, one farmer is on a mission to sue DuPont chemical company after his entire herd of cattle died following elevated exposure to PFAS chemicals.
I personally requested information about PFAS in my drinking water supply from my local municipality multiple times but received no response.
Efforts to stop the spread of PFAS chemicals and crack down on their manufacturers don’t seem to be gaining any traction. For starters, local municipalities don’t seem sure how to tackle the contamination from a public health standpoint: by nature, it’s nearly impossible to remove the PFAS chemicals from water.
To top it off, stopping human and animal exposure to PFAS would mean taking on massive chemical conglomerates like 3M, DuPont, and the military-industrial complex in court, which has proven to be a tremendously expensive and steeply uphill battle.
Considering that government corruption was directly responsible for the Flint water crisis and that these companies have produced PFAS chemicals since the 1950s, it’s fairly safe to assume that clean water will simply become a pipe dream in much of the United States.
Top Photo | House Democratic floor leader Christine Greig, of Farmington Hills, speaks while other House Democrats look on during a news conference, Sept. 4, 2018, in the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Democrats accuse majority Republicans of “inaction” on the contamination of tap water with PFAS industrial chemicals, a charge the GOP denies. David Eggert | AP
Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.