Industrial facilities dumped at least 94,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, including PFAS, into Maryland’s waterways in 2020 according to Wasting Our Waterways, a new report by Maryland PIRG Foundation.
The report comes as the Maryland Department of Environment has found toxic PFAS in drinking water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there is no safe level of these so-called “forever chemicals” in drinking water and exposure to PFAS, even in small amounts over time, has been linked to serious health effects including cancer, thyroid disruption and reduced vaccine response. PFAS have been nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in our bodies or the environment.
Companies were exempt from reporting many PFAS chemicals until 2020. In early 2022, three national advocacy organizations sued to force the EPA to investigate possible non-compliance with PFAS reporting requirements based on unexpectedly low numbers of facilities reporting PFAS use, unexpectedly low numbers of total PFAS chemicals used, and unexpectedly low amounts of PFAS released to the environment.
The Maryland PIRG Foundation report is based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2020. The TRI data captures only a portion of the toxic pollution released to waterways by industrial facilities, meaning that the amount of toxic substances released to waterways by industrial facilities is likely higher than reported. Major findings of the report include:
- Industrial facilities dumped 94,000 pounds of toxic chemicals into Maryland’s waterways.
- Polluters dumped 6.2 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Brandywine-Christina Watershed in neighboring Delaware and Pennsylvania, the third-highest volume dumped into any watershed in the country.
- The facility releasing the most toxic chemicals in Maryland was Grace Davison-Curtis Bay Works in Baltimore, which emitted 79,000 pounds of chemicals into the Gunpowder-Patapsco watershed.
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