Read the full article (The Daily Progress)

“The Western Virginia Water Authority is spending millions of dollars on an advanced filter system to keep a dangerous ‘forever chemical’ made by Chemours chemical company from fouling the drinking water it distributes to customers in the Roanoke area.

For now, it does not appear that the company will have to pony up a dime to clean up the Roanoke River and the Spring Hollow reservoir, from which the authority distributes drinking water. This lack of corporate accountability applies to a chemical product called GenX that an Environmental Protection Agency health advisory says should be limited to 10 part per trillion. That’s right, 10 parts PER TRILLION. This is because lab tests on animals link its presence to certain cancers and high cholesterol.

Most of the big chemical companies, including Chemours, lobby politicians to downplay the public health risks of their products. These companies push for weak or non-existent regulation of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals, such as Chemours’ GenX. These chemicals are used in waterproofing clothes, stain-proofing carpets and furniture, producing non-stick cookware, making firefighting foam, even lining food wrappers. The waste produced in their manufacture degrades so slowly that it builds up in the blood of humans and other animals and has been linked to several types of cancer and a number of other health problems.

But because these problems take years to develop, companies like Chemours claim their products are not the source of health injuries.

The EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allow products on the market before sufficient safety testing takes place. They apply a ‘you-can-sell- it-until-someone-proves-it-is-hurting-people’ approach. There are thousands of individual types PFAS. This makes enforcement of safety standards time-consuming and expensive, if not impossible. The U.S. approach contrasts with the European chemical approval model that generally restricts sales until companies prove that their products do not represent a public health risk.

To understand the stakes in what has turned into a worldwide PFAS public health crisis that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars to fix, consider that 95% of Americans have measurable levels of PFAS in their blood. In Europe, eggs from chickens raised near a 3M plant were judged inedible because of PFAS. Military bases that used PFAS-based firefighting foam polluted surrounding rivers and creeks, leaving PFAS in fish and wildlife inedible.” …