Toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” are contaminating our soil and waterways — and they’ll stick around forever if we don’t clean them up.
Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering listing two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, which would jumpstart the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites.
The forever problem
PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are all around us. For decades, they’ve been used to make goods nonstick, stain-proof or water-repellent. And for decades, these toxic chemicals have run off into our waterways wherever they’re manufactured, used or thrown away.
PFAS accumulate in our environment (and our bodies) and stick around for a long, long time — earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” And most alarmingly, exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and a laundry list of other health problems.
Now, the EPA is considering listing two types of PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — as hazardous under the Superfund law.
These two chemicals, once used in cookware, carpets and firefighting foam, have already been largely phased out by manufacturers. But they still threaten our environment and our health in the form of the contamination that’s been building up in our soil and water for years.
PFAS chemicals have been identified at 180 Superfund sites, many of them containing PFOA and PFOS — but they won’t get cleaned up until they’re designated as hazardous. Doing so will grant the EPA the power to require polluters to clean up their mess.
Your action can help clean these hazardous chemicals
In 2019, we helped win a ban on the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS on military bases — a significant source of water contamination. And we’re calling on Congress to pass a nationwide law to help curb PFAS pollution.
But right now, we have a can’t-miss opportunity to jumpstart the cleanup of the PFAS contamination that’s already harming our environment and our health.
Add your name to urge the EPA to take action on forever chemicals.
Senior Director, Clean Water for America Campaign and Senior Attorney, Environment America
John directs Environment America's efforts to protect our rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water. John’s areas of expertise include lead and other toxic threats to drinking water, factory farms and agribusiness pollution, algal blooms, fracking and the federal Clean Water Act. He previously worked as a staff attorney for Alternatives for Community & Environment and Tobacco Control Resource Center. John lives in Brookline, Mass., with his family, where he enjoys cooking, running, playing tennis, chess and building sandcastles on the beach.
Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG
Emily advocates to remove toxic chemicals from our everyday lives and the environment. Emily is a NEPA native and enjoys knitting, hiking and cooking with friends.