PFOA pollution in the water and across the country

From ToxicLeaks

Recent tests have revealed that there are alarming amounts of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the water systems. You know, the chemical used to produce the teflon for non-stick pans ? The only problem is that it's extremely toxic and that big chemical companies have let vast amounts of it flow into the environment. This water contamination is coming from the plants of companies like DuPont and Saint-Gobain and is creating immense health hazards. This indicates that regulations are too lax and have to be made more stringent in order to make these companies act responsibly and not endanger the lives of the Americans.

PFOA pollution in many states[edit | edit source]

Recent reports have exposed an insidious pollution of the water supply in many US locations. For instance, wells in the area of North Bennington, Vermont, were tested with very high PFOA concentration, some of them well above 2,500 part per trillion, which is more than a hundred times more than the standard level in the State. The very same chemical was found only days before in some wells in the Hoosick Falls, and in the water systems of New York and Petersburgh. However, the water crisis is not only located on the East Coast, California is also hit by strong concentrations of PFOA in the water. This issue is becoming nationwide as the number of water systems with worrisome levels of PFOA is increasing according to EPA reports. But many of these places were not even inspected by the EPA because it only tests water systems that supply at least 100,000 residents ! The authorities urged the people not to drink the water and have been handing out water bottles, to make sure this doesn't turn into mass murder. But the anger of the residents is tangible, and some of them are determined to ask justice from the dirty chemical companies that made their water unsafe to drink.

A pollution directly caused by major chemical companies like DuPont and Saint-Gobain[edit | edit source]

The pollution in North Bennington and Hoosick falls was found close to old chemical plants that had belonged to Chemfab, a subsidiary of Saint Gobain. This prompted Erin Brockovich to come investigate the area and give legal advice to the victims. Some of them decided to file suit against Saint Gobain to ask for compensation of the health issues they suffered because of the PFOA laced water. They received Erin Brockovich's to do that. Robin Greenwald, head of the environmental and consumer protection unit of Weitz & Luxenberg, the law firm of Erin Brockovich, explains that : “Drinking PFOA contaminated water can have a devastating impact on human health”. He details the work the law firm has set out to do to address the water crisis : “We are undertaking this independent investigation to understand why this has occurred and the ways in which residents have been harmed. We will be talking to residents about their legal options and to the authorities about how the ongoing contamination can be stopped.” Indeed, exposure to PFOA is extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening. It can lead to testicular cancer, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer and, as new studies have found, pancreatic cancer.

More stringent regulations are needed in spite of chemical lobbying[edit | edit source]

This water crisis is the proof that the regulations on water quality are not rigorous enough and that they need to be reinforced to guarantee the safety of people. Researchers from Harvard and Massachusetts University recently discovered that PFOA is toxic no matter how small the dose, and that an amount 100 times smaller than the EPA 400 parts per trillion standard is still dangerous for health. This has driven some states to implement some lower standards. For example, the State of Vermont, in reference to what the science proves to be a dangerous rate, has set a much lower standard of 20 parts per trillion. That's about 20 times less than the EPA. Furthermore, the EPA standard is only a recommended level, it's not a “legally enforceable federal standard”. Which means that there is no way to make a state follow the standard and that there is no way to fine the companies that pollute heavily like DuPont and Saint-Gobain ! It's the legal equivalent of saying “pretty please”.

And chemical companies like the ones involved here have no interest whatsoever in respecting this rule voluntarily, because it would cost too much, they will only comply when they are made to. This much is very clear when one looks at the effort and resources that DuPont is pouring into lobbying to make sure the water regulations wouldn't tighten too much. In 2013, DuPont spent over $10 million in direct lobbying and millions more to external lobbying groups that fought new regulations and worked day and night to make sure DuPont would still have the right to put people at risk. In 2012, it funded both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, thus making sure the man in the White House would remember who helped him get there. This is why water regulations have to become more stringent. We have to assume that the existing rules have been deeply influenced and twisted by these terribly greedy companies and it's time for citizens to demand the implementation of rules that will prevent chemical pollution and thus guarantee a clean water supply.

This PFOA contamination in many states of the US is a clear sign that chemical companies like DuPont and Saint-Gobain have polluted our water, and continue to do so, no matter how green they try to appear. It also proves that public authorities have been weak and have let people become exposed to this danger. It's going to take resolute action from the EPA and the states to bring an end to this incredibly unsafe water pollution. That's why we the people must make them do it.