Water is one of the most vital resources for the sustenance of mankind. But, over the past few decades, it is being polluted and violated at an alarming rate. Ever since the implementation of the Clean Water Act in 1972, ensuring safe water access for all Americans has been a longstanding objective of the US government.
But, many individuals across the country still encounter significant challenges with water quality due to issues such as contamination, aging infrastructure, and insufficient treatment processes at water treatment facilities.
According to theguardian.com, in the state of Connecticut, a condominium was reported to have lead contamination in its drinking water, surpassing the acceptable levels set by the federal government.
Meanwhile, a church located in North Carolina had its water contaminated by high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals, which are generally found in many household products!
According to estimates, between 18 and 80 million individuals in the United States get exposed to drinking water laden with high concentrations of carcinogenic chemicals known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS).
Their concentration is at a rate of 10 ng/L or higher, which is much above the permissible safe levels.
In this blog post, we delve into the alarming aspects of PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” focusing on their longevity and bioaccumulation processes.
PFAS Longevity: Understanding the Forever Chemicals
The exceptional physical and chemical characteristics of fluorinated organic molecules have facilitated their extensive utilization since the latter part of the previous century. This is exemplified by the widespread application and commercial success of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS represents a class of organic compounds distinguished by their incorporation of multiple fluorine atoms within their carbon framework. Notably, their extraordinary resistance to degradation stems from the strong and enduring bond formed between carbon and fluorine (C-F).
This exceptional chemical stability enables PFAS to persist in the environment over prolonged periods, raising concerns regarding their potential for environmental contamination and bioaccumulation.
Bioaccumulation: The Silent Build-up of Forever Chemicals
The ecological consequences of PFAS-related pollution get intensified by the persistent nature of PFAS compounds. This increases the significant dangers associated with bioaccumulation in organisms positioned higher in the trophic hierarchy.
This is particularly notable for aquatic organisms, where the risks of PFAS bioaccumulation are particularly pronounced.
Studies have shown that PFAS compounds can also accumulate in the body, over time through the ingestion of contaminated food and water.
Once absorbed, these compounds can distribute throughout the body and persist for extended periods, raising concerns about their potential health impacts.
It is well-known that exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) can have serious consequences on human health, with a range of negative effects seen.
Long-term contact with these toxins can cause significant damage to the liver, potentially resulting in severe liver conditions. Additionally, research has shown that PFAS can interfere with the regulation of thyroid hormones.
Furthermore, TorHoerman Law suggests a correlation between PFAS and immune system disorders. Additionally, certain types of cancer, such as kidney and testicular cancer, have also been linked to long-term exposure to these compounds.
Your Rights Against Personal Injury
In 2017, a shocking revelation exposed the continuous discharge of PFAS chemicals into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River for almost four decades by a former DuPont chemical plant. DuPont, the plant’s owner, operated the facility until 2015 when they decided to establish the Chemours Company and separate their PFAS business.
Upon discovering the contamination, the state of North Carolina conducted a thorough investigation, resulting in the imposition of a substantial $12 million fine on Chemours for violating clean water laws. This fine was part of a consent order agreed upon to prevent prolonged legal battles.
This significant incident emphasizes the importance of holding companies accountable for their environmental impact and highlights the necessity of implementing strict regulations to safeguard public health and protect our invaluable natural resources.
Also, companies manufacturing fire suppressants containing Aqueous Film Forming Foam(AFFF) have also come under the radar. AFFF fire extinguishers are known to contain PFAS chemicals and their prolonged usage near military settlements and airports has caused grave water pollution in those areas.
This crisis has seen many AFFF lawsuits getting filed to address the grievance of the people affected. Many have also gotten a ray of hope from the expected settlement amounts.
The settlement amount for an AFFF lawsuit, as per legal estimates, can range from $40,000 to over $300,000, depending on various factors, including the merits of the case and individual circumstances.
Key Measures to Mitigate PFAS-Risks
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been actively addressing the concerns surrounding PFAS with significant actions to safeguard public health.
In March 2023, the EPA proposed enforceable limits for six PFAS substances found in drinking water, fulfilling a commitment in their PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Starting in January 2023, it introduced a rule to restrict the manufacturing, processing, and use of approximately 300 inactive PFAS compounds, subject to a comprehensive EPA review.
It also launched the PFAS Analytic Tools webpage, consolidating information to enhance awareness and understanding of PFAS. Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a proposal to classify two prevalent PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
The objective of this proposal is to enhance transparency surrounding the release of these substances and establish accountability for the polluters. These measures have been put forth to mitigate the risks associated with PFAS contamination and foster an environment of informed decision-making.
The EPA’s efforts reflect their commitment to addressing the challenges posed by PFAS and ensuring the protection of public health and the environment.
The presence of harmful toxins in your drinking water poses a grave and concerning threat to your overall health and well-being. It is of utmost importance for you to gain a deep understanding of where these contaminants originate, the potential health consequences they carry, and the regulatory measures and preventive strategies in place.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions and take proactive steps to protect yourself and your community.
The pursuit of ongoing scientific research, combined with the implementation of stringent regulations, is pivotal in minimizing the risks associated with these detrimental chemicals. Furthermore, embracing alternative substances that are free from PFAS is paramount in mitigating the adverse effects and ensuring the safety of precious water sources.
You need to remain vigilant and passionately advocate for the preservation and safeguarding of clean, pure drinking water. By doing so, you can play a vital role in securing a healthier future for yourself and the generations to come.