MASSPIRG joins LWV panel on the harms of toxic PFAS

Liam Louis, Elle Vignette Photography | Used by permission
MASSPIRG's Deirdre Cummings speaking at a forum on PFAS hosted by the Newton League of Women Voters. She is joined by Wendy Heiger-Bernays, BU professor of Public Health, Katherine Lange, MA Rivers Alliance, Halina Brown, Professor of Toxicology, Clark University.

MASSPIRG participated in a panel last night organized by the Newton League of Women Voters, on the both the problem of toxic PFAS (forever chemicals) and more importantly, what can we do about it.

PFAS are a class of synthetic petrochemicals that help products resist heat, water, grease and stains.  The downside is that PFAS are toxic at very low levels, increasing risk of cancer, immunosuppression, birth defects, colitis, and other diseases.

People are exposed by drinking and eating food and water that has been contaminated and using products with PFAS.  In Massachusetts, at least 171 public water systems in 96 cities and towns have exceeded the state’s legal limit (Maximum Contaminant Level) for PFAS.

MASSPIRG’s Deirdre Cummings spoke about the pending state bill, Act to protect Massachusetts public health from PFAS (S1356/H2197) filed by Senator Cyr (Truro) and Representative Kate Hogan (Stow). The bill would phase out PFAS in many products; cut industrial discharges of PFAS; protect firefighters from PFAS exposure in their turnout gear; and set up a fund to help communities test and treat for PFAS in drinking water, soil, and groundwater.

“The fight against PFAS isn’t easy, but we need to act to protect Bay Staters’ health,” said Cummings. “We need to identify and clean up existing pollution. We need to care for those affected. And we need to hold contaminators accountable for cleanup costs. That said, our efforts will be for nothing if we don’t stop PFAS contamination at the source. It’s pretty simple: If a bathtub is overflowing, you don’t start scooping out buckets of water to try to empty it. You turn off the faucet.”


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