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Get these “forever chemicals” out of our food and water

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What’s At Stake

Every day millions of people across the country are exposed to food and drinking water contaminated with toxic chemicals known as PFAS. Though regulators have been aware of the PFAS crisis for decades, the federal EPA’s plan to address PFAS contamination has fallen exceedingly short of what’s needed to protect communities and has been more talk than action. Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced long-overdue timelines for curtailing PFAS pollution. However, many of the actions it is promising are too far in the future and don’t offer enough protection. We must urge the administration to implement stronger protections with more aggressive timelines from these toxic chemicals now.

“PFAS” is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and they are a class of more than 5,000 substances found in everyday products like waterproof jackets, nonstick pans, food wrappers, and personal care products. They persist in the environment for up to hundreds of years, readily spread from sources of contamination, and can remain in our bodies for decades -which is why they are known as “forever chemicals.” They’ve been linked to serious medical problems, including cancer, infertility, impaired fetal development, and have the potential to impair the immune system and decrease vaccine effectiveness.

According to the EPA’s proposed roadmap the agency says it will set enforceable drinking water limits on certain PFAS in two years. But communities need protection now. And they need assurance that their water will be free of all PFAS, but the promised standards would only cover two of the thousands of PFAS in existence. We urge the EPA to protect our drinking water on a faster timeline – and from all PFAS. We are also disappointed that EPA’s roadmap does not include a promise to stop approving new variants of toxic PFAS. Our water, air, and homes are already contaminated with PFAS that are so persistent they are hard to eliminate. Enough is enough.

Chemical manufacturers continue to produce and release these “forever chemicals,” poisoning us and our families. Tell the EPA to speed up its timeline for action to end ongoing pollution from PFAS chemicals!

Some 110 million Americans have been exposed to PFAS through drinking tainted water.
REAL444/Getty Images

Some 110 million Americans have been exposed to PFAS through drinking tainted water.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.