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Forever Chemicals: The Hidden Threat in Our Pans and Waterways

Are our pans polluting our waters? The simple answer is yes, precisely, nonstick pans, as they contain a material called PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are synthetic, carbon-based molecules that make up the nonstick coating on the pan. These are especially dangerous because they do not break down in the environment and can remain for decades. Hence, they've been dubbed the "Forever Chemicals." PFAS are also endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with normal hormone functions. They alter normal hormone levels by mimicking the body's hormones or altering the natural production of hormones. This can lead to health defects such as liver damage, thyroid disease, fertility issues in women, and cancer.

On August 17, 2023, the EPA Released Initial Nationwide Monitoring Data, the first of 12 sets of data on lithium and PFAS. This will hold great significance to communities everywhere as this data will aid in eradicating remaining PFAS in water that people drink daily.

Drinking water has been exposed to new pollutants for years and has come up in many cases across the country. The Biden-Haris administration has been working to make clean water accessible to all. They have been testing and publishing reports of water quality and observing bodies of water near factories to make sure that waste is disposed of correctly so that this waste does not harm nearby bodies of water. Although this data is not a solution, it is a step in the right direction. It is vital to minimize PFAS now since POPs bioaccumulate in animals over time, so the more these animals drink, the greater their chance of getting these health issues. When humans eat these animals, the amount of PFAS biomagnifies as we go up the levels of the food chain. We have seen a great accumulation of PFAS in fish, which becomes present in humans upon consumption.

There has been an increase in conferences regarding PFAS science and remediation to discuss possible changes we can make in the future. The EPA has recently partnered with the National Contaminant Occurrence Database (NCOD) on PFAS issues to ensure the containment levels in drinking water sources stay under an acceptable threshold.

Alongside these efforts, Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law promises to invest in community drinking water affected by PFAS since this water has spent so long residing in these aquifers. The EPA has promised a nine billion dollar budget to provide drinking water without harmful traces of contaminants, such as PFAS.

The U.S. government must prioritize making safe drinking water accessible for all communities nationwide. And while much of the work must be done by the government, you can still take action to reduce PFAS pollution. Be sure to purchase products, especially cooking pans, made by companies that follow the "cradle to grave" policy, which forces companies to design sustainable products.



Citations:


"EPA Releases Initial Nationwide Monitoring Data on 29 PFAS and Lithium" 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-releases-initial-nationwide-monitoring-data-29-pfas-and-lithium. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.


"EPA releases initial nationwide monitoring data on 29 PFAS" 18 Aug. 2023, https://www.waterworld.com/home/press-release/14297902/epa-releases-initial-nationwide-monitoring-data-on-29-pfas-and-lithium. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.


"Shaheen Statement on the EPA's Nationwide." 17 Aug. 2023, https://www.shaheen.senate.gov/shaheen-statement-on-the-epas-nationwide-monitoring-data-of-pfas-and-lithium. Accessed 22 Aug. 2023.

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