Protect People From Toxic PFAS Chemicals
What's At Stake
These “forever chemicals” are wreaking havoc on people’s health.
PFAS—or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—are a class of thousands of man-made chemicals used in numerous everyday products, including nonstick cookware, grease-proof food packaging, personal care products, stain- and water-resistant clothing, carpets, and furniture, often unnecessarily.
Linked to a variety of health problems, among them cancer and developmental issues, PFAS can be harmful at extremely low doses. These chemicals have contaminated the air, soil, water, plants, wildlife—even our own bodies. In fact, PFAS can be detected in the blood of nearly every American.
Scientists and health officials, including NRDC experts, are ringing the alarm about these toxic chemicals. Not only are PFAS highly mobile, spreading easily throughout the environment, but they also do not break down and can accumulate in our bodies and the food we eat.
Despite all this, the federal government still allows companies to dump PFAS into rivers, lakes, and streams or to release them into the air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t even require disclosure of PFAS use or track the chemicals in our environment or drinking water.
To fill the void left by federal inaction, NRDC and partners have been instrumental in helping a number of states step up by setting enforceable standards for drinking water and regulating the use of PFAS in products such as firefighting foam, carpets, and rugs. We are also working to stop companies from selling consumer products that contain PFAS. And with partners, NRDC is pushing for federal legislation that would regulate these harmful chemicals and help protect people’s health.
Reporting, expert commentary, analysis, and more.
Health protections should be delayed no longer based on the mistaken idea that there is not yet enough data to support action. The great potential for harm associated with PFAS calls for urgent and comprehensive action.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed an important law to protect public health and the health of first responders by phasing out the use of PFAS in firefighting foam.
These forever chemicals must be regulated and eliminated at the source of the discharge to prevent serious health issues for communities downstream.
This year’s defense bill represents significant progress toward protecting human health against PFAS, dangerous air pollution, lead poisoning, and climate change. Yet more work remains.
While California’s new guidelines are the nation’s most health protective levels proposed for two PFAS chemicals, we are disappointed by the decision to focus on just two of the many PFAS that have been detected in the state’s drinking water.
New Jersey’s proposed regulation of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water does not go far enough.
The CDC and numerous states have found that the EPA’s 70 ppt cleanup level and 40 ppt screening level for PFOA and PFOS are far too high.
How we decide to use and regulate these chemicals now will have far reaching consequences for decades to come.
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