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Stop Toxic PFAS

To protect water and health, the Governor needs to set strong limits for PFAS in our water and clean up contamination.

The Maryland Department of Environment has found toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in some of Maryland’s drinking water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PFAS chemicals, even in small amounts over time, has been linked to serious health effects including cancer, thyroid disruption and reduced vaccine response.

We’re calling on the Governor to protect our families by establishing strict limits for PFAS in waterways and drinking water and to hold polluting industries accountable for the environmental and public health damage they have caused. 

The problem with PFAS "forever chemicals"

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS, are a class of chemicals that are used in manufacturing to make things greaseproof and water-resistant. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PFAS chemicals, even in small amounts over time, has been linked to serious health effects including cancer, thyroid disruption and reduced vaccine response.

To make matters worse, PFAS have been given the nickname “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in our bodies or in the environment. So the more they get used, the more they build up and the bigger the risk they pose to our health. This is particularly concerning for our kids who could be exposed to these chemicals for decades to come.

PFAS are in wide use in everything from raincoats and food packaging to carpets and cookware. They have also been used by the military and firefighters. PFAS chemicals can be discharged into our waterways during the manufacture of these products and leach from these products, ending up in our food and water, and ultimately our bodies. This has led to water contamination in Maryland and across the country. In fact, the Maryland Department of Environment has found PFAS in 75% of the water treatment plants they have tested. We also know of contamination in and around more than a dozen military sites in the state and in some seafood.

  •  <h4> Toxic PFAS in our drinking water</h4><p>The Maryland Department of the Environment has found PFAS in 75% of the water treatment plants they have tested.
  •  <h4>PFAS chemicals harm our health</h4><p>According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.
  •  <h4>The toxic “forever chemicals”</h4><p>PFAS have been given the nickname “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in our bodies or in the environment, which is especially dangerous for children.
  •  <h4>Stopping their use</h4><p>Maryland has restricted the use of PFAS in food packaging, rugs and carpets, and switching to safer alternatives in fire fighting foam.
  •  <h4>Protecting our water</h4><p>To protect our water and health, the Governor needs to set strong limits for PFAS in water and clean up contamination.
  •  <h4>Holding polluters accountable</h4><p>We need to hold polluting industries accountable for the environmental and public health damage that they have caused.
Protecting children and families from PFAS exposure

States and industries are moving away from using these chemicals. Earlier this year, Maryland banned their use in food packaging and rugs and carpets and switched to safer alternatives in firefighting foam. And the military also has a plan to phase out their use. These are critical steps to stopping contamination, but now we need to clean up our water supply.

Maryland has no enforceable limit for PFAS contamination nor mandatory testing for PFAS in water, and unless we hold the polluting industries accountable for the environmental and public health damage the chemical industry has caused, Marylanders will be left to foot the bill for PFAS cleanup and public health costs related to PFAS exposure.

So what can we do to protect our children and families from PFAS?

The manufacturing and use of these chemicals have created widespread contamination that is extremely difficult to clean up and will create health risks for years.

We’re calling on the Governor to:

  • Protect our families by establishing strong, health protective limits for PFAS in waterways and drinking water.
  • Routinely test for contamination in our waterways and drinking water and clean up contamination.
  • Hold polluting industries accountable for the public health and environmental harm they have caused.

 

Tackling PFAS contamination long term

Ultimately, we need to stop using PFAS completely.

We also need stronger federal action on PFAS and to update our chemical regulations to ensure chemicals don’t make it to the market unless and until they are proven safe. To get there, we’ll need to win enough hearts and minds to the point of view that just because a chemical seems useful doesn’t mean it’s safe. That’s one more reason why our work to raise awareness and get people involved matters so much right now.

Protecting public health for 50 years

Over the past 50 years, Maryland PIRG and our national network have been leaders in protecting public health from exposure to toxic chemicals in our communities and drinking water. 

We’ve helped eliminate toxic chemicals from art supplies and baby products, advocated for cleanup of toxic waste sites, and won toxics right-to-know laws. 

Most recently, in Maryland we passed the George “Walter” Taylor Act to stop the use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging and rugs and carpets and to shift to safer alternatives in firefighting foam. We also helped pass the Family and Firefighter Protection Act to ban the use of toxic and ineffective flame-retardant chemicals in children’s products, furniture and mattresses. And we won a law to require all Maryland schools to test for and remediate lead in school drinking water.

Take Action

We’re calling on the Governor to test for and clean up any PFAS contamination found in our water.