This was written by Moms Clean Air Force Michigan State Coordinator Elizabeth Hauptman:
I live with my husband and son in Michigan on a chain of lakes contaminated with PFAS, aka “forever chemicals.”
These chemicals—which come into the environment mostly from factory pollution and firefighting foam—can be found in waterways across the country. They have been linked to serious health issues, including weakened immune systems, poor cardiovascular health, cancer, and reproductive problems.
Forever chemicals are nearly impossible to break down, which means they can contaminate our waterways and remain in our bodies for a lifetime.
Earlier this month, EPA released a proposal to designate two PFAS chemicals—PFOA and PFOS—as hazardous substances. This designation would mean our communities would have more resources to monitor and clean up PFOA and PFOS and protect public health from the substantial danger these chemicals pose.
Just a couple of years ago, I found out that the private well that served my house was contaminated with PFAS. My family had been living there and drinking contaminated water for nearly eight years. We had been fishing in the nearby contaminated lakes. I had planted our family’s garden in contaminated soil.
This PFAS exposure took a toll on me and my neighbors, many of whom were also affected by the contaminated lakes nearby. When we experienced cancer, miscarriages, and other health problems, we worried it was because of the contaminated water. When our children got sick and missed school days, we wondered if their immune systems were weaker because of their exposure to PFAS. No parent should have to ask these questions.
PFAS contamination is a problem not just in Michigan, but nationwide, and PFOA and PFOS are two of the most prevalent of these chemicals. They have been found in waterways, soil, drinking water, and even wild and domestic animals across the country.
Designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances would require industrial facilities that release more than one pound in a day to immediately notify emergency response officials and begin cleanup. This designation would also increase the funding and resources available to facilitate cleanups and help cleanup happen at a faster pace—which means more public health protection for our families and communities.