NRDC to Congress: You Probably Have PFAS in Your Body, but EPA’s in No Rush to Act

WASHINGTON – The country needs urgent protection against a dangerous class of toxic chemicals found in everything from our drinking water, food packaging and clothing to carpets, cookware and cosmetics, a leading public health expert will testify tomorrow morning.

“You, your family, and probably every one of your constituents has PFAS in your body,” Erik D. Olson, Senior Director for Health and Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council, will tell a House subcommittee tomorrow morning, in testimony calling for protections from a group of chemicals called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

“PFAS are the new PCBs—but possibly more widespread and dangerous,” Olson will warn the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment in a hearing that convenes at 10:00 am ET. 

Even at low levels, PFAS have been linked to a range of serious illnesses, including cancer of the kidneys and testicles, thyroid and liver disease, lower fertility in women, higher cholesterol and weakened immune systems.

“They are toxic at extremely low levels, don’t break down, and have become ubiquitous in the environment,” Olson noted in written testimony.

Just two of these chemicals are present at unsafe levels in the drinking water of 6 million Americans, Olson notes. 

Olson calls for action by the Environmental Protection Agency and state governments, citing delay and a host of failures by the EPA, including:

  • Failure to meaningfully regulate PFAS manufacture and use;
  • Failure to issue standards to protect drinking water;
  • Failure to prevent PFAS contamination; and,
  • Failure to ensure contaminated sites are cleaned up.

He also calls upon states to “immediately step into the vacuum” left by EPA’s inaction, in order to protect public health and the environment.

The written testimony of Erik Olson, Senior Director for Healthy and Food with the Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program at NRDC, is available here.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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