Water is life! Clean water is essential to our health, our environment and our economy. As a public health advocate and a homeowner with a private well, I was alarmed to read reports of PFAs found in Greenwich wells and in water supplies all over the country.
PFAS is a class of human-made chemicals that are persistent, don’t break down in the environment and are linked to kidney, testicular and liver cancers, reproductive disorders, infertility, low birth weights, thyroid disruption and resistance to vaccines in children. Because they are persistent, they get into groundwater and contaminate drinking water sources. PFAS pollution has been documented at 94 sites in 22 states (including industrial plants, military bases, airports and fire training sites) and in the tap water of up to 16 million people in 33 states.
PFA is now found in the blood of most Americans at low levels; this has become a public health and environmental crisis!
Significant sources of PFAS chemicals include firefighting foam, food packaging and food service ware. Firefighting foam used at factories, military bases or airports for flammable liquid fires can and does contaminate soil and groundwater. Food packaging containing PFAS can potentially transmit PFAS to the food we eat. Other uses include non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, products that resist grease, water, and oil, including food packaging like pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags. We need to address all these categories of exposure.
Right now. the Connecticut General Assembly has an opportunity to protect our groundwater by passing House Bill 5910, An Act Limiting the Use of Polyfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Certain Products, which would impose restrictions on Class B firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals for training purposes. It would not restrict use of foams containing PFAS chemicals in actual fires where they are required, such as jet fuel fires at airports. It is not necessary to use these chemicals in training foam and changing this practice would go a long way to reducing the amount of these chemicals in our environment. There is bi-partisan support for HB 5910, and I urge the assembly to pass it this session.
Going forward, I would like to see restrictions on food packaging containing PFAS chemicals and increased monitoring of public drinking water supplies as well as education and testing programs for private well owners. This is an urgent matter for our public health, but one which we can address with safer alternatives.
Susan Eastwood is a member of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy CT.
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