WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) and Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) introduced bicameral legislation to allow people exposed to the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS to sue manufacturers for the cost of regular medical monitoring to detect health problems associated with the chemicals.
“The diseases linked to PFAS exposure – cancer, reproductive harm, immune system harm and more – can take years to develop,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group. “Allowing people who have been exposed to PFAS to sue for the cost of medical monitoring is critical to securing justice for the victims of PFAS pollution.”
Only nine states and the District of Columbia have created a legal cause of action that allows people who have been exposed to PFAS to recover the costs of medical monitoring from manufacturers, and many of those states have created barriers to the courthouse. The PFAS Accountability Act will expand access to medical monitoring to all 50 states.
The bill would also allow courts to force manufacturers to fund research on the health effects of PFAS. EWG estimates that approximately 2,500 manufacturers may be releasing PFAS into the air and water.
“Because the harmful health effects of PFAS often take many years to manifest, people injured by PFAS may have no legal avenue to hold manufacturers accountable for the illnesses they caused,” Faber said.
The most comprehensive study on the health effects of PFAS was the result of a medical monitoring program created for the residents of the area around Parkersburg, W.V. Parkersburg was the site of DuPont’s Teflon factory, which for decades discharged PFAS into drinking water supplies.
An independent scientific study of 70,000 area residents found exposure was associated with high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension, among other health effects.
A peer-reviewed study by EWG scientists showed that PFAS contamination has been detected in the drinking water supplying over 200 million Americans. As of January, 2,337 locations in 49 states are known to have PFAS contamination.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.