Path of Toxic Pollution, an Investigative Report
How making "forever chemicals" for food packaging threatens people and the climate
Toxic-Free Future published Path of Toxic Pollution on September 16, 2021. This report traces the path of American PFAS in food packaging back to one manufacturing company: Daikin America, which manufactures in Decatur, Alabama.
In 2019, Daikin’s Decatur PFAS manufacturing plants reported releasing 240,584 pounds of a potent greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting chemical, HCFC-22. These emissions make them the nation’s #2 polluter of HCFC-22, and in greenhouse gas terms, equate to emissions from driving 125,000 passenger cars for a year. Daikin’s process for making PFAS also threatens workers’ lives: at least three workers have been killed on the job in Decatur. The drinking water for communities downstream of Daikin’s facilities has been contaminated by Daikin and another facility, with Daikin paying $5 million to the local water utility to address the contamination. And when paper mills apply Daikin’s PFAS treatment to paper, they can release PFAS in wastewater, contaminating rivers and sludge.
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From the Experts
“This report illustrates the connection between toxic pollution and the climate crisis, both of which disproportionately harm communities of color. Not only is Daikin America endangering people with the PFAS chemicals it sells for food packaging, which is why we helped pass a law banning it for that use in New York State, but we now know that the production of this toxic chemical is accelerating the climate crisis. The entire world is scrambling to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before their damage to our climate is beyond repair, yet we are letting a company dump hundreds of thousands of pounds of hydrochlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere so that it can produce ‘forever’ chemicals that poison our communities? Where is the justice in that?”
Co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice
“Members of my community have been drinking poisoned water for decades because of plants like the local Daikin America facilities. And many of my neighbors are experiencing health problems that we’re concerned may be due to this toxic PFAS exposure. As a grandmother, this worries me to no end. No one’s drinking water should be poisoned to make burger wrappers.”
Founder of Concerned Citizens of WMEL Water Authority
“This is a sad but clear example of how toxic chemicals and climate change are connected: manufacturing PFAS chemicals not only pollutes people and the environment, but releases potent greenhouse gases, adding to the climate crisis. Exposure to PFAS is known to be toxic and dangerous, and so is the process of making them. The safest thing we can do is to stop making them, and we need action at all levels to make this happen, including from Congress, grocery and fast-food retailers, and state governments.”
Co-author of the report and science director for Toxic-Free Future