I recently became a “PFASist” — someone alarmed about the growing crisis over the manufacture and use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). These man-made chemicals create bonds between carbon and fluorine – bonds so strong they are indestructible. We use “forever chemicals” in a variety of products, like non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, firefighting foams, and fast-food wrappers. You are a PFASist if the weight of the scientific evidence leads you to conclude this class of chemicals is just too dangerous.
Scientists are still learning about the health effects from exposure to PFAS. Studies show PFAS may affect growth, learning and behavior in infants and adolescents, damage the immune system and increase cancer risk.
Most of the contamination found in Alaska is in groundwater near airports from use of fire-fighting foams. Communities near identified contaminated sites include Fairbanks, North Pole, Eieslon, Utqiagvik, Dillingham, Gustavus, Yakutat, Galena and King Salmon.
Remarkably, earlier this year the Dunleavy Administration halted efforts by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to protect all of our citizens’ drinking water.
DEC Commissioner Jason Brune’s approach — do nothing until the Environmental Protection Agency acts — fails to fulfill the state’s duty to prevent and abate pollution of Alaska waters. Brune is unwilling to do even as much as New Jersey to protect its residents’ drinking water. Knowing action is needed, refusing to take it, and hoping Trump’s EPA will protect us, is a recipe for disaster.
My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.