How forever are these forever chemicals?
Although environmental degradation has been a hot topic for a while, there still remains to this day a vast amount of misconception and unawareness exists about how exactly the pollutants enter the environment. Often people are apprehensive of digging really deep into the crux of the subject as it often seems overly scientific.
In the United States, this ignorant attitude has led to the introduction of a group of harmful chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Currently, there exist no limitations on these chemicals and are quite widely used in manufacturing processes which are an integral part of the industry. It exists in fire fighting foams and in objects to make the material water, oil, and stain-resistant and moreover, there are absolutely no limitations to the usage and release of these chemicals. What makes this incredibly dangerous is the penetrative capability of these chemicals; Phil Brown, director of Northeastern University’s Social Science Environmental Health Institute states that these chemicals “get recycled into the food we eat, the milk we drink, and the dust that we breathe”. Most importantly, we have no clue till when they’re going to stick around. They have now been termed as “forever chemicals”.
A bill to establish federal regulations for these harmful chemicals was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives recently with bipartisan support. The legislation passed the House with 247 votes but requires the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to establish drinking water regulations and hold the polluters responsible for clean-up. The apprehension around passing this bill is the argument that this could circumvent the existing Clean Air Act and Safe Water Drinking Act regulations and undermine public confidence in the EPA. This is dangerous as the fast-paced destruction of the environment has already triggered this fall in public confidence. What is now trying to spearhead this call for control and regulation is using state bans, combined with public pressure so that quick action is taken to control the wrath of these “forever chemicals”.