PFAS News Roundup

May 28: ‘Forever chemicals’ detected in more Massachusetts drinking water, Sierra Club tests find PFAS in fertilizer and more

The Boston Globe reported that more Massachusetts communities are finding elevated levels of toxic PFAS in their drinking water. Of the public water sources that have tested for PFAS under new state regulations, one in five reported contamination above the state’s strict new standards. In October the state implemented one of the nation’s most stringent limits on six of the more common PFAS detected in water: 20 parts per trillion for combined PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, PFNA, PFHpA and PFDA.

Tests by the Ecology Center of Michigan and the Sierra Club of nine home fertilizers made of sewage sludge found PFAS in all of them. The ‘’forever chemicals’’ were detected in every fertilizer and, in eight products, at levels that exceeded screening guidelines set by Maine, the state with the strictest limits for toxic PFAS in sludge. PFAS in fertilizers could expose home gardeners to the chemicals.

EWG analysts determined that after five years, PFAS cleanup plans under the Superfund law are “under development” by the Department of Defense at only nine of 50 Air Force or Navy bases with some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination. Not a single cleanup plan has been finalized for those nine bases, and little actual cleanup has begun, according to the most recent documents made public by the Defense Department.

More PFAS news

  • Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced legislation to prohibit the Defense Department from buying or selling cookware, food packaging, floor waxes, carpeting, curtains, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, dental floss, toothpaste, sunscreen, umbrellas, luggage, ski wax, cleaning products, shoes and clothing if these items contain PFAS.
  • Mamavation tested 17 pairs of period underwear from 14 brands and found 11 of the products tested had detectable levels of fluorine present in either the outer or inner layer of the crotch. Underwear from three of the brands had levels of fluorine over 100 parts per million, with one as high as 940 parts per million.
  • A study of disposable food packaging and tableware showed the widespread use of PFAS across Europe. Alternatives to PFAS treatments exist, and even more importantly, safe, durable and reusable options for food containers and tableware are widely available. Where bans have been enacted, as in Denmark, companies have moved away from using PFAS compounds to coat materials that come into direct contact with food.
  • The Center for Environmental Health also released a toolkit to help K-12 schools transition from single-use foodware to healthier, more sustainable alternatives. The toolkit emphasizes a switch to reusable food containers and utensils that eliminate exposure to toxic chemicals such as PFAS and styrene.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council published a review of PFAS as a chemical class in the textile sector. 
  • And Sonya Lunder of the Sierra Club rightly argued in Ms. Magazine that “We can no longer position worried moms as the front line of defense between their child’s health and the chemical industry. We need a government that regulates chemicals.”
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