- Action #1: Tell your legislators that you want them to support the PFAS Action Act.
- Action #2: Write a comment to the EPA to stop the dumping of these “forever chemicals” into our drinking water. Deadline May 17.
Action #1: Tell your legislators that you want them to support the PFAS Action Act.
In April, Reps. Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Fred Upton (MI-6), along with 25 other members of Congress, introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that aims to protect all Americans and our environment from harmful forever chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The package (read it here) establishes a national drinking water standard for select PFAS chemicals, designates as hazardous to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up contaminated sites in Michigan and across the country, as well as list under the Clean Water Act, limits industrial discharges, and provides $200 million annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment. The PFAS Action Act would do the following to protect our air, land, and water from harmful PFAS contamination:
- Require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations.
- Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
- Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
- Require EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provides $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
- Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes and places a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
- Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
- Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.
Minimum script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen. [__] to support Reps. Dingell and Upton’s PFAS Action Plan.
Action #2: Write a comment to the EPA to stop the dumping of these “forever chemicals” into our drinking water. Deadline May 17.
(We’re adding this video because it discusses chocolate cake, which is a huge issue for us chocolate lovers.)
As a parting gift, the Trump administration’s EPA released a faux “PFAS management plan” – one that was useless in stopping the introduction of new PFAS chemicals, ending the use of PFAS chemicals in everyday products, alerting Americans to the risk of PFAS pollution or cleaning up contaminated drinking water supplies for an estimated 110 million Americans. “Once again, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is the nation’s first pro-cancer president,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG.
Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is beginning the process of making a new rule that could limit the industrial dumping of PFAS in our waterways, and they’re accepting comments until May 17. This is our chance to show the Biden administration that there is strong public support for keeping toxic “forever chemicals” out of our waterways.
The EPA is requesting comments regarding using the Clean Water Act to create “effluent limitation guidelines” to limit PFAS discharges into surface waters or sent to wastewater treatment facilities. Those regulations may also include requirements for new PFAS monitoring, which would provide information about ongoing releases into the environment. Bizarrely, PFAS are not currently regulated under the Clean Water Act, although they contaminate more than 2,300 sites nationwide and contaminate the drinking water of more than 200 million Americans. The Environmental Working Group estimates there are more than 2,500 industrial dischargers of PFAS. Melanie Benesh, legislative attorney at EWG stated “However, this is only a first step. The EPA must act quickly to use the information it collects to set health-protective limits on PFAS discharges and expand regulations to the other industries responsible for contaminating our rivers, ground water and communities with these toxic chemicals.”
Recipe to write a comment on the “Clean Water Act Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards: Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers Point Source Category.”
- Docket number: EPA-HQ-OW-2020-0582, posted on Mar. 16, 2021.
- Write your comment here. You can comment as an individual, an organization or anonymously.
- Read other comments for inspiration here. Remember, DO NOT COPY a comment exactly. Channel creative writing class – make it sound like you. IDENTICAL COMMENTS WILL BE DELETED!
- Research first – how close do you live to a PFAS Contamination Site? Check this interactive map of PFAS pollution in public and private water systems. You can use this kind of information in your comments.
- Your comment can be of any length, from a single sentence to a thesis. Comments over 5000 characters should be attached as a bmp, docx, gif, jpg, jpeg, pdf, png, pptx, rtf, sgml, tif, tiff, txt, wpd, xlsx, or xml file.
- Submit it before May 17, 11:59 pm EST
- You can use a salutation or not…
- Dear EPA Administrator Regan,
- To whom it may concern.
- Dear United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Tell them whether you support or oppose the rule right up front.
- I am calling on you to stop companies from dumping all PFAS “forever chemicals” into our waterways.
- I am writing in support of this proposed rule change regarding the Clean Water Act limitation guidelines on Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF) and per/polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
- I support the Environmental Protection Agency on this one. We should be able to have access to clean drinking water. The EPA has identified two places where PFAs are being contaminated into wastewater and these must be addressed immediately.
- Edit/write something that indicates you understand the health effects of PFAS. Tell them something about your own health concerns or those of family members, especially if you live in a high concentration area.
- PFAS have been linked to health problems such as cancers, low fertility, endocrine disruption, autoimmune diseases, birth defects and more.
- For example, in humans, high exposure to PFAS can increase cholesterol levels, affect the immune system, lead to low infant birth weight, and in some instances cause cancer (EPA (2021). Basic Information on PFAS. https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas). However, it is almost impossible not to be exposed to PFAS given that its substances can be found in food packaging, commercial household products, and in drinking water, to name a few (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (2020). What are PFAS? https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/overview.html).
- In pregnant women, these chemicals can put their infants at risk of low birth weight. Women who are breastfeeding can passe PFAS through breastfeeding and can cause development issues. (Potential Health Effects of PFAS Chemicals.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 June 2020, https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/index.html.)
- Current epidemiological studies suggest that human beings who are exposed to these chemicals may develop reproductive and hormonal imbalances that may affect their cholesterol levels and, in pregnant women, lead to congenital abnormalities (Bell, E. M., De Guise, S., McCutcheon, J., Lei, Y., Levin, M., Li, B., & Ryu, H. (2021). Exposure, health effects, sensing, and remediation of the emerging PFAS contaminants–Scientific challenges and potential research directions. Science of the Total Environment, 146399. ).
- They are able to bind to proteins in the blood in organisms that take them in and are captured by the liver. Experimental studies have proven PFASs have been found to impede cell-to-cell communication and peroxisome proliferation which are both avenues for hepatocarcinogenesis (Haukås, M., Berger, U., Hop, H., Gulliksen, B., & Gabrielsen, G. W. (2007). Bioaccumulation of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in selected species from the Barents Sea food web. Environmental Pollution, 148(1), 360-371).
- According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health, PFAS exposure has probable links to high cholesterol, thyroid disease, pregnancy induced hypertension, ulcerative colitis, and multiple types of cancer. It has also be said children may be more vulnerable to PFAS exposure because they aften have more burdens on their imunne system and bodies in general than adults (Sunderland, E. M., Hu, X. C., Dassuncao, C., Tokranov, A. K., Wagner, C. C., & Allen, J. G. (2019). A review of the pathways of human exposure to poly-and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and present understanding of health effects. Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology, 29(2), 131-147.)
- Exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been linked to liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility and cancer. Researchers from Harvard’s School of Public Health have even found a link between PFAS exposure and increased risk of more severe cases of COVID-19.
- Edit/write something about the national scope of this issue.
- These chemicals are everywhere now. They’re used all over the country to make everything from firefighting foam, to raincoats, to nonstick pans and fast food takeout containers.
- They’re in supermarket meats and bakery items like chocolate cake!
- We are exposed to PFAS through food, by contaminated soil and water used to grow the food, food packaging containing PFAS, and Equipment that used PFAS during food processing. It’s also in our carpeting, our furniture, in leather, cookware and other household goods.
- In the environment, many chemicals are degraded by sunlight, destroyed through reactions with other environmental substances, or metabolized by naturally occurring bacteria. However, PFA’s are immune from these issues and even consuming small amounts through food and water can lead to high concentrations over a lifetime.
- They contaminate soil, groundwater, and aquatic ecosystems and remain in the environment for long timescales (Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) Factsheet. 2017).
- Buildup of PFASs has also been identified in agricultural crops from water and organic matter added to agricultural soils such as manure. PFAS concentration has been discovered to be particularly high in leafy vegetables and fruits do to the easily absorbable molecular structure of short chained PFASs. They have also been detected in potatoes and cereal grain. (Ghisi, R., Vamerali, T., & Manzetti, S. (2019). Accumulation of perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in agricultural plants: A review. Environmental research, 169, 326-341.)
- Numerous studies have been done confirming the that these toxins accumulate through food webs across the globe. Magnification of PFAS in seafood are particularly dangerous to humans as humans often eat fish that are at the top of the food chain.
- They have now contaminated the drinking water of millions of Americans. It has to stop.
- As of January of 2021 out of the 50 states in the US there are 2,337 locations across 49 states that are known to have PFAS and some more severe than others (EWG, 2021).Not to mention in the San Francisco area alone there are said to be “74 community water systems serving 7.5 million Californians” (EWG, 2021) that are highly contaminated with PFAS.
- Remind them that it’s their job to stop this problem. And don’t vote for politicians who think of regulations as “problems” and not “protections.”
- This is not a problem that consumers can fix by themselves. These chemicals must be stopped at their source.
- The EPA needs to work with the FDA, which also authorizes the use of PFAS. (FDA. (2020). Authorized Uses of PFAS in Food https://www.fda.gov/food/chemicals/authorized-uses-pfas-food-contact-applications )
- Industries that are disposing of these chemicals into our rivers, lakes, and streams need to be held accountable. Having the EPA regulate the discharge of PFAS will give us an insight into what chemicals are being dumped into our water so that more research can be conducted.
- The Clean Water Act requires that any discharge of pollutants into the United States’ surface waters, must have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. There should be a common standard throughout the country.
- Ultimately, we should work to phase out the use of these dangerous chemicals wherever possible. Barring companies from dumping them directly into our waterways is an urgently needed first step.
- PFASs are a serious issue to environmental and public health. This proposed rule would be a step in the right direction to ensure the health and safety of future generations. Imposing stricter guidelines and regulation on manufacturers of these toxic chemicals and industry that relies on them too heavily is powerful way to help keep American waterways clean and safe.
- Companies need to be held accountable for how they contribute to environmental harm, and this proposed rule aids in that goal. The Clean Water Act must be adhered to and honored through the guidelines the EPA puts into practice, and this case is no exception.
- I think that the EPA’s rule regulating these chemicals under the Clean Water Act is just a beginning. Ultimately, this issue should be regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA or TOSCA, because these chemicals affect far more than water.
- Europe is ahead of the United States in creating restrictions about the manufacture and distribution of some of these chemicals. The European Chemicals Agency has restricted PFOA in regard to its use, manufacture, and distribution. It has also prescribed environmental quality thresholds PFOs.
- Clean water should be a right and this rule could be a small step towards that.
- There has been recent progress to ban PFAS. After calls from U.S. PIRG and coalition partners, McDonald’s agreed to phase out PFAS-treated packaging. And states such as California, Washington, New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota have all taken action to phase out these chemicals in certain consumer products, and many other states are considering similar bills.
- The EPA should follow every step of the EWG plan: (https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news-release/trump-pfas-plan-recipe-more-contamination and here.)
- Find out where they’re coming from.
- Find out where PFAS chemicals already are.
- Stop approving new PFAS chemicals.
- Stop adding more PFAS chemicals to the environment by banning products containing them, including food packaging and firefighting foam.
- Designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law.
- Set an enforceable limit for PFAS in tap water.
- Direct the military to quickly clean up contaminated bases.
- Make polluters pay their fair share.
- Regulate PFAS air emissions.
- Create health-protective PFAS disposal requirements.
- “Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Your Health,” CDC, last accessed April 21, 2021.
- Nadia Kounang, “What are PFAS chemicals, and what are they doing to our health?,” CNN, February 14, 2019.
- Nadia Kounang, “What are PFAS chemicals, and what are they doing to our health?,” CNN, February 14, 2019.
- “PFAS exposure linked with worse COVID-19 outcomes,” Harvard University, last accessed April 20, 2021.
- Carol Kwiatkowski, “The frightening rise of ‘forever chemicals’–and why they’re more common than you think,” Fast Company, October 13, 2020.
- Garrett Ellison, “McDonalds pledges to stop using PFAS in food packaging by 2025,” Michigan Live, January 15, 2021.
- Marci Robin, “What California’s New Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act Means for Your Beauty Products,” Allure, October 1, 2020.
- “PFAS,” Safer States, last accessed April 23, 2021.