Townhall and Q&A Discussion: Toxic “Forever Chemicals” Contamination, A Way Forward

Members of Congress and advocates discuss how to end PFAS contamination across the U.S.


Erin Fitzgerald,

On June 29, 2021 in a town hall organized by Earthjustice, GreenLatinos, and the Southern Environmental Law Center, Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), advocates and scientists will discuss how to stop PFAS contamination in the United States. Moderated by Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos founding president and CEO, this virtual event comes at a critical time when PFAS contamination in our nation’s water continues to spread. 

“Communities across the country are struggling to respond to the human health and environmental threat posed by PFAS contamination,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These chemicals have gone unregulated for far too long and are putting the health of millions of Americans at risk. Dangerous levels of PFAS in drinking water can lead to birth defects, various forms of cancer, and immune system dysfunction. I want to thank Earthjustice, GreenLatinos and the Southern Environmental Law Center for holding this important conversation. We must do everything in our power to hold polluters accountable and develop clear standards for all measurable PFAS to protect our drinking water sources.”

“PFAS,” which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of thousands of toxic chemicals that are nearly indestructible and can persist in our bodies and in the environment for decades. This town hall will explore the impacts of PFAS pollution and address policy solutions to enforce the existing prohibition on PFAS discharges into our waterways, establish nationwide standards, improve clean-up efforts, and hold polluters accountable.

PFAS are linked to serious health effects, such as cancer, immune system dysfunction, impaired fetal development, and decreased vaccine effectiveness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of their toxicity and pervasiveness, more than 95% of the U.S. population has PFAS in their blood

“Thanks to ruthless manufacturers, PFAS have gone from chemical plants to homes and workplaces, contaminating everything they touch. PFAS are in our air, our water, even our bodies,” said Mark Magaña from GreenLatinos. “But there are clear ways of stopping these dangerous chemicals, like setting pretreatment standards, requiring permits for priority industries before allowing discharges, and regulating PFAS as a class. We look forward to having this important conversation with members of Congress, advocates, and experts.” 

The uses of PFAS chemicals in this class of more than 5,000 are wide-ranging. They’re found in products like toys, nonstick cookware, food packaging, and waterproof clothing, as they’re resistant to grease, oil, and water. PFAS have been used for decades in firefighting foam at military bases and commercial airports. Even personal care products like waterproof makeup, dental floss, and sunscreen contain PFAS

“PFAS is one of the most pressing environmental and public health issues facing our nation today — impacting millions of Americans,” said Congressman Pappas. “I am grateful to these organizations for convening this event on how we can take critical steps to hold polluters accountable, establish proactive limits for PFAS, and support communities that have been directly affected. Through conversations like these, we can develop a stronger national focus on the issue of PFAS contamination and, in turn, protect all those across New Hampshire and the nation from these ‘forever chemicals.’”

What: ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Our Water: PFAS Response Town Hall

Who: Sen. Kristen Gilibrand, Rep. Chris Pappas, Earthjustice Legislative Counsel Christine Santillana, Earthjustice Staff Scientist Michelle Mabson, Defend Our Health Organizer Sergio Cahueque, SELC Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler.

When: Tuesday, June 29, 2021 @ 1PM EST /10 AM PST


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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.