Seattle, WA – The environmental health group Toxic-Free Future today called on Governor Inslee and the Departments of Ecology and Health to quickly tackle the health threat posed by toxic stainproof chemicals (PFAS chemicals) in light of new evidence that these chemicals are contaminating drinking water in the Spokane-area community of Airway Heights. PFAS chemicals are linked to a number of health effects, including cancer, reduced immunity, and lower birth weight.
Recently drinking water in the Spokane-area community of Airway Heights was found to contain PFAS chemicals at levels above federal recommendations. Drinking water wells in Issaquah and Whidbey Island have also tested high for these chemicals.
The Department of Ecology is developing recommendations for addressing and eliminating sources of PFAS chemicals in the state and has convened a PFAS advisory committee to advise the state. Toxic-Free Future Science Director Erika Schreder is a member of the committee and issued the following statement:
“Washingtonians expect their drinking water to be free of chemicals that can harm their health. The state must respond quickly to protect the health of residents from these cancer-causing chemicals. As more and more PFAS contamination is uncovered, it becomes clearer that the state needs stringent drinking water standards for these chemicals.
Unfortunately, drinking water is just one of the many ways we are exposed to PFAS chemicals. All of us encounter these chemicals on a daily basis from the products we use in our homes and the environment.
To prevent further exposures to these toxic chemicals, we ask Governor Inslee and the Department of Ecology to prioritize and swiftly complete a PFAS phaseout plan. The plan should consider banning sources of these chemicals, including food packaging and firefighting foam, and require the use of safer alternatives when available.”
PFAS chemicals are linked to many health effects, including cancer, reduced immunity, and lower birth weight, and are so persistent they can stay in the human body for up to eight years or more. PFAS chemicals are used in firefighting foams – often the source of drinking water contamination – and numerous consumer products in our homes, including nonstick coatings in food packaging and stain-resistant coatings on clothing and furniture. Earlier this year, members of the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition, including Toxic-Free Future, sent a letter to Governor Inslee asking for quick action on PFAS chemicals. A copy of the letter is available here.