“Forever Chemicals” Are in Our Bodies, Drinking Water, and the Environment: Now is the Time To Hold Polluters Accountable and Ramp Up Regulation in the United States

Since per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) were created in the mid- twentieth century, they have made their way into all aspects of the environment, including drinking water sources. Humans, and all living creatures, are repeatedly exposed to these chemicals just by going about their daily lives. Even if a person were able to cut out all consumer products containing PFAS, that person would continue to be exposed through food, water, soil, and other pathways. Science has demonstrated links between PFAS exposure and several diseases; studies continue to uncover precisely how those associations occur. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has known about this class of chemicals and their detrimental effects on human health for decades, yet PFAS remain largely unregulated on the federal level. In the absence of federal drinking water standards, the states are picking up the burdens of setting enforceable limits and cleanup costs. Citizens and states alike are filing lawsuits against PFAS manufacturers to obtain the monetary help they need to begin to address this crisis. It is time for the federal government to fully engage in cooperative federalism and help the states by taking concrete actions under federal statutes to regulate PFAS and hold manufacturers accountable.