Report from EWG shows that Chemical Manufacturers Knew of the Risks Associated with PFAS more than 60 years ago

As the nation’s PFAS contamination problem continues to grow, a report recently released by the Environmental Working Group states that PFAS manufacturers have known about the risks associated with these chemicals for more than 60 years.

The report documents studies and internal memos with a timeline that begins in 1950. PFAS manufacturers 3M and DuPont are the focus of the report.

PFAS contamination is being discovered at sites throughout the United States. EPA tests have detected PFAS in public water supplies 33 states. The national PFAS contamination site tracker being maintained by Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Institute (SSEHRI) was updated on August 12 and now lists 254 sites with confirmed PFAS contamination, an increase of 47% since May. Michigan accounts for 71 of the contaminated sites.

Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are fluorinated organic chemicals, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” are persistent and bioaccumulate. Persistent means they do not break down in the environment and bioaccumulate refers to the process of building up over time in the blood and organs.

Of all the PFAS compounds, PFOA and PFOS have been the most studied. PFOA and PFOS have been used in the manufacturing of carpet, clothing, shoes, cookware, packaging, and other products. PFAS compounds have also been used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for fire extinguishing at military base airfields at locations throughout the United States.

Steve Sliver, executive director of Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), testified at the congressional hearing with the Natural Resources subcommittee in June. During his testimony Sliver shared MPART’s activities and efforts over the last several years.

“The use of PFAS is so widespread across everything from our personal care products to firefighting foams and industrial applications, that it is probably easier to list where PFAS are not used rather than where they are,” Sliver said during his testimony.

In 2016, the U.S. EPA released a report about the health effects associated with PFAS. The EPA reported “associations between PFOA exposure and high cholesterol, increased liver enzymes, decreased vaccination response, thyroid disorders, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, and cancer.”

Merit is a national leading PFAS environmental laboratory, analyzing soil, wastewater, groundwater, drinking water, and other sample matrices. Merit is certified for the analysis of PFAS by ISO/IEC 17025. Analytical method certification for PFAS includes drinking water by EPA 537 rev. 1.1 and wastewater | groundwater | surface water by ASTM D7979 with Isotopic Dilution. Please contact Merit Laboratories for assistance on your PFAS testing needs.