Drinking Water of Millions Contaminated by Fluorinated Chemicals: Scientists Call for Action
BERKELEY, Calif: More than six million Americans are drinking water polluted with highly fluorinated chemicals. These substances, used as stain and water repellents and in fighting aviation fires, are associated with health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, decreased sperm quality, high cholesterol, and decreased response to vaccines.Scientists and Government Agree - Action is Needed.
Coordinated research is needed to protect the health of our country, say scientists writing in a letter published today as a peer reviewed commentary in Environmental Health.
Politicians from both sides of the aisle are also calling for action. However, a coordinated plan has not yet taken shape.
"Sadly, residents of contaminated communities can be seen as test subjects in an unintended chemical experiment. They are frightened about their health, the health of their children, and are asking for answers," said Arlene Blum, PhD, of the Green Science Policy Institute and co-author of the letter.
Thirty-nine leading scientists signed the letter sent today to members of Congress. The Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration are also recipients because the firefighting foams used at military bases and airports are linked to the pollution.
"My dread is that my children's future health will be harmed by their exposures to these toxic chemicals," said Andrea Amico of Portsmouth NH. Ms. Amico's children drank polluted water in a daycare and have elevated levels of the chemicals in their blood years later. "I'll never stop worrying about my children's health."
The scientists' proposal would provide impacted communities with education, blood testing, health studies, and medical monitoring.
As reported in Bloomberg News, a CDC official recently called highly fluorinated chemicals "one of the most seminal public health challenges for the next decades."
Scientists have previously identified military bases, airports, and industrial sites as major sources of contamination.
"While the military does not dispute its responsibility for the well contamination, the response thus far has been unacceptable," stated Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Fitzpatrick has proposed amendments to the defense budget to "pave the way for cleanups and remediation efforts, as well as providing Americans critical information about the impact these unregulated chemicals may have on their health."
According to co-author Tom Bruton of the Green Science Policy Institute, "our letter asks decision makers to take action to clean up the contamination, study the impacted communities, and prevent future incidents."