U.S. PIRG issues new report on ‘forever chemicals’

A new report released on Tuesday by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Education Fund says all 50 of the United States are contaminated by per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances — toxic compounds commonly used to repel oil and water, and found in food, water and other products.

The report, The Threat of “Forever Chemicals,” produced by U.S. PIRG, the Environment America Research & Policy Center, and Frontier Group, outlines recommendations for state and federal policymakers to address the threats of these substances, also commonly referred to as PFAS.

Authors of the report urge state and federal policymakers to ban the production and use of PFAS.

The report recommends regulating and restricting the entire class of chemicals, holding companies that make and use PFAS accountable for the damage these compounds have caused, and establishing health-protecting limits for PFAS in water.

The report documents PFAS contamination of drinking water, seafood and waterways, and maintains that these PFAS chemicals are used so widely in homes and communities that nearly every American has PFAS in their blood. PFAS don’t break down in the human body or in the environment, hence the nickname “forever chemicals,” the report said. Even very low levels of exposure are linked to a range of health problems, including kidney cancer, reproductive risks, reduced vaccine response, and more, according to the report.

“We’ve known about the health risks of PFAS for years, yet manufacturers continue to use them in a wide variety of products we can’t help but come into contact with daily, such as food packaging, rugs and even clothes,” said Yana Kucher, chair of U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s toxics program. “We need to use other methods of repelling oil and water that don’t pose long-term threats.”