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Communities poisoned by ‘forever’ chemicals release new video calling on President-Elect Biden to act

NATIONAL COALITION OF COMMUNITY LEADERS CALL FOR SWIFT FEDERAL ACTION ON PFAS 

Monday, January 11, 2021

[NATIONAL]—Community leaders across the country are calling on President-elect Joe Biden to act on ‘forever’ chemicals when he takes office this month. 

This class of chemicals, known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can cause cancers, kidney diseases, reproductive disorders, and other major health problems. PFAS are known as ‘forever’ chemicals because they take an extremely long time to break down, and these chemicals are estimated to be in the drinking water of over 200 million people across the U.S.

Today, members of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, representing communities across the country that have been poisoned by PFAS, released the first of several videos calling on President-elect Biden to act on PFAS contamination. The video points to the 22-point action plan published by the Coalition last month. 

“The year after my husband died of cancer, I found out that our drinking water had been contaminated by PFAS, at some points as high as 80,000ppt. Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer,” said Sandy Wynn-Stelt of Belmont, MI. “I think it’s important that our federal government act on PFAS and act on it now. We don’t have time to wait. People are being contaminated by this and have no idea.” 

“I drank the contaminated water for 20 years. I had three boys, and we found out that my oldest, who was six years at the time, had a cancerous brain tumor. My exposure may have actually caused cancer in my child,” said Joanne Stanton of BuxMont Coalition for Safer Water in Warminster, PA.

“In 2013, my uncle was diagnosed with cancer. A few months later, my little brother was diagnosed with cancer. Three months later, I was diagnosed with cancer. Our father was diagnosed with cancer. Then, we found that our drinking water had been polluted with PFAS chemicals,” said Stel Bailey of Fight For Zero in Cocoa, FL and co-facilitator of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition. “We deserve to know what is in our water, to help prevent tragedies like what my family experienced. Now’s our chance to take action and help save lives.”

The National PFAS Contamination Coalition is a network of residents from communities across the country that have been directly impacted from PFAS contamination. The Coalition was formed in 2017 and now represents 18 grassroots community groups in 16 states fighting PFAS at the local level and beyond. 

The Coalition’s vision is a PFAS-free world where people are not exposed to any PFAS, where the environment and public health are protected, where there is justice for the victims of PFAS exposure, and where laws and regulations change to prevent contamination disasters like this from happening again.

The 22-point action plan turns this vision into concrete steps that President-elect Biden can take to end the PFAS contamination crisis facing communities nationwide. 

Ayesha Khan of Nantucket PFAS Action Group in Nantucket, MA: “My husband is a firefighter at Nantucket Fire Department. About a year ago he got diagnosed with testicular cancer. I started to look into the high rates of cancer in firefighters and through that I saw the correlations with PFAS in their gear and in the AFFF foam that they use. We need to remove these chemicals from the gear that is supposed to protect them. We cannot let another family go through this.”

Linda Shosie of Mothers Safe Air Safe Water Force in Tucson, AZ: “My daughter passed away in 2007. I’ve seen children as young as five years old died of brain cancer, including my niece. I have lived through the devastation of this pollution in my community.”

Laurene Allen of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water in Merrimack, NH: “Every case that we talk about is a mother, a father, a loved one, a child. We learned in March 2016 that our water is contaminated by St. Gobain performance plastic. In my community, we hear story after story of mothers, children, fathers, brothers, sisters and whole neighborhoods that have health issues that we know are connected to PFAS. We drink it. We breathe it. I hear mothers asking questions about the health of their families every single day. I need action now.”

Cheryl Cail of Idle No More South Carolina, a committee of the South Carolina Indian Affairs Commission: “My son was diagnosed with testicular cancer. We started piecing things together and we really feel like the reason he had it was because of the contamination. The doctor even said his testicular cancer is not common with not having the usual precursors for it. There is an absolute need for something to be done about PFAS contamination. We should have started a long time ago.”

Hope Grosse of BuxMont Coalition for Safer Water in Warminster, PA: “We were drinking the water, we were swimming in the water, we had a private well most of our lives. I was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 1990 and my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the late 80’s and he passed away from it. My sister has autoimmune diseases and I fear for the future of my children, understanding that these chemicals can cross the placenta.”

Jay Post of Your Turnout Gear and PFOA and resident of Florida: “In January of 2018 I had my vocal chords, part of my esophagus, my epiglottis and part of my lymph nodes removed due to throat cancer. I wore my firefighter gear as directed by the manufacturer for 33 years. Little did I know, and did the rest of the firefighters in the country know, that the gear was manufactured with PFAS chemicals in them. Please join us in contacting the President-elect to get these chemicals banned… completely.”

Andrea Amico of Testing for Pease in Portsmouth, NH: “We still have no enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS in this country. My family and others have a right to live in a healthy and safe community. The EPA must regulate PFAS as a class and must set a Maximum Contaminant Level of 1ppt for the entire class of PFAS. Now is our chance to take action. That’s why I’m calling on President-elect Biden’s EPA to take a much stronger stance to regulate PFAS, to protect communities like mine, and to prioritize clean up and action for so many affected by PFAS.”

Eric Weiner of Clean Water Task Force at Windsor Climate Action in Windsor, CT: “Last spring, our river was covered bank to bank with foam that was three or four feet thick. There had been a spill of 40,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS that caused that contamination.”

Anthony Spaniola of Need our Water (NOW) in Oscoda, MI: “If the federal government is serious about PFAS, it must clean up its own act within the Department of Defense. Due to DOD’s long history of mismanagement and deceit on PFAS, our communities cannot wait any longer for DOD to reform itself. That’s why we need direct leadership and coordination on PFAS from the White House, overseen by a PFAS Czar, with input from a Presidential Council including leaders from heavily impacted communities and exposed groups (such as veterans and firefighters). The Department of Defense must be transformed from a laggard on PFAS to a national leader.”

Emily Donovan of Clean Cape Fear in Wilmington, NC: “I am one of 300,000 residents who live downstream from the DuPont/Chemours facility in Fayetteville, NC. We were chronically exposed to toxic levels of their chemical waste for nearly 40 years. Over 3,000 private well owners living around the Fayetteville facility have PFAS contamination as well. I live in a confirmed thyroid cancer cluster that spans three counties. My husband almost lost his eyesight to a brain tumor three years after moving to the region. President-Elect Biden must empower his administration to use their full authority to address all PFAS contamination–including industrial exposures.”

Shaina Kasper, Water Program Director at Community Action Works and Co-facilitator of the National PFAS Contamination Coalition: “PFAS contamination is an unfolding crisis for communities who are just now finding out they’ve been poisoned. When there’s a crisis, you don’t wait to act. On day one in office, President-elect Biden will have the power to act on one of the biggest toxic contamination threats of our time.” 

For more, see the hashtag #ActOnPFAS on Twitter and Facebook

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The National PFAS Contamination Coalition is a network of grassroots groups fighting PFAS contamination in communities across the country, formed following the June 2017 PFAS conference in Boston, MA. The coalition has grown to represent 18 groups in 16 states across the country. See more at pfasproject.net

Community Action Works works side by side with everyday people to confront those who are polluting and harming the health of our communities. We partner with the people who are most impacted by environmental problems, training them with the know-how anyone would need to make change in their own backyard. Learn more at communityactionworks.org.

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