Read the full op-ed by David Bond (The Guardian)
“This week the EPA announced a new roadmap to research, restrict, and remediate PFAS – a group of industrial ‘forever chemicals’ that have been linked to cancer and are found in our food, water, and even our blood. President Biden is requesting $10bn in the infrastructure bill to address PFAS. But this new attention still falls short of what’s required to confront an unprecedented crisis that affects the health of the entire United States and countless people across the world.
Today, toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are everywhere we’ve thought to look for them. As engineered, these synthetic chemicals glide through air and water with ease, evade all natural processes of decay, and inflict debilitating injuries even at exceedingly low levels of exposure. The petrochemical industry has its fingerprints all over the ubiquity of PFAS, yet that very ubiquity is now being used as an excuse against doing anything about it. PFAS are becoming too toxic to fail.
The EPA’s hyped national PFAS testing strategy bemoans how ‘impossible’ it is for the EPA ‘to expeditiously understand, let alone address, the risks these substances may pose to human health and the environment.’ Overwhelmed by rampant PFAS contamination, the EPA is asking the petrochemical industry to study these chemicals one by one in the hopes of eventually building enough data to regulate them. Yes, one by one. The timeline proposed will take another century (or two) to make its way through the entire family of PFAS, which now number in the thousands.
The manifold ways that PFAS makes a mockery of our regulation of toxins cannot be the end of our ability to prosecute petrochemical malfeasance. Rather, this should be the start to fixing everything that went wrong.
The companies behind PFAS knew about its toxicity for decades, but that knowledge was hidden in corporate archives and subject to shamefully lax government oversight.
When 3M and DuPont learned about alarming patterns of birth defects and cancers in their own workers at PFAS plants in the 1970s and 1980s, both companies smothered the evidence. In the 1970s, the navy and air force looked the other way when they found PFAS migrating off their bases and into nearby communities. By the 1990s, 3M and DuPont both realized that their PFAS operations were polluting municipal drinking water at levels they considered harmful. As revealed by investigative reporting and dramatized in the 2019 film Dark Waters, corporate executives helped destroy the evidence while giving false assurances to residents and regulators alike.”…