Statement by PennEnvironment's Stephanie Wein in response to recent national study of PFAS contamination in drinking water

For Immediate Release

Statement by PennEnvironment's Stephanie Wein in response to recent national study of PFAS contamination in drinking water:

This week, the national non-profit organization Environmental Working Group released a new study about the threat of PFAS, dubbed “forever chemicals”, in the Philadelphia area and nationwide. In response to this study, PennEnvironment’s Clean Water & Conservation Advocate Stephanie Wein released the following statement.

“It feels like every day there is growing awareness and concern about the threats posed by PFAS in our drinking water and our environment. 

Polyfluoroalkyl substances - more commonly known as PFAS - are a class of chemicals used in firefighting foam and in consumer products, from non-stick pans to food packaging. These chemicals are often called “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment for incredibly long periods of time. PFAS have been linked to cancer, immune system deficiencies, high cholesterol, low fertility, and even developmental issues in children and infants.

As PFAS becomes a more pervasive problem, these chemicals are becoming almost impossible to avoid. It’s been found in soil, drinking water systems, and even in our air

While there are warranted concerns about PFAS in our tap water, bottled water is not a solution. Held to far weaker standards than our tap water, bottled water is not regulated for PFAS, and some brands have been found with very high levels.

PennEnvironment calls on elected officials at the local, state, and federal level to implement the following policies to address this crisis:

  1. Set health-based standards for PFAS. PennEnvironment calls on decisionmakers to list the PFAS class of chemicals as hazardous substances, and establish a 1 part-per-trillion (ppt) maximum contaminant level, far below the Environment Protection Agency’s outdated health advisory level of 70 ppt. 

  2. Require drinking water agencies to test for the PFAS class of chemicals.

  3. Phase it out. Given the risk that these chemicals pose to our health and environment, PFAS has no place in consumer products or industrial processes.  Allowing the widespread use of toxic chemicals that last forever virtually guarantees the contamination of our drinking water systems. PennEnvironment calls for a comprehensive ban on the use of PFAS in firefighting foam and in consumer products.

  4. Clean it up.  Where PFAS contamination exists in our environment, our state and federal agencies must ensure soil and groundwater are remediated to a level below 1ppt, with polluters paying for cleanup, not taxpayers.

The recent news coverage only bolsters the clear reality that we must move swiftly and aggressively to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to safe drinking water and a clean, healthy environment.

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PennEnvironment is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. For more information, visit www.PennEnvironment.org.