Contamination of drinking water sources with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is a growing national public health concern, estimated to affect more than one million Americans. PFAS chemicals include thousands of compounds that are used in a wide range of products, from food packaging to stain-resistant furniture. A significant source of PFAS contamination is chemical foam used to suppress oil fires. PFAS compounds have been detected in groundwater and soil across the United States, including in Alaska, close to some airports and military bases in Fairbanks and in well water in Gustavus. Over the summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report suggesting that PFAS may be more hazardous to health than previously thought. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, hormone disruption, liver and kidney toxicity, harm to the immune system, and reproductive and developmental toxicity. On this podcast you will hear more about the sources of PFAS contamination, the health effects linked to exposure, and what actions are being taken at the local, state, and international levels to address the problem.
Up to 110 Million Americans Could Have PFAS Contaminated Drinking Water Environmental Working Group (EWG) report
Gustavus households offered safe drinking water after latest PFAS scare (Alaska Public Radio Network, October 31, 2018)
‘Emerging’ pollutant contaminates Gustavus well water (Juneau Empire, October 24, 2018)
PFAS Discovered in Groundwater Near Gustavus Airport Firefighting Foam Discharge Areas (Alaska Native News, August 26, 2018)
Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic Free Future talks about the organization’s work with firefighters to win passage of a first-in-the-nation ban on toxic PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam and how the ban in Washington State can serve as a model for other states.
Pam Miller, Executive Director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Co-Chair of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) discusses the Stockholm Convention and international efforts to ban PFAS.
Kelly McLaughlin, a fourth generation southeast Alaskan whose family bought a homestead in the small town of Gustavus in the 1960s talks about the discovery of PFAS contamination of her well and other private wells near the Gustavus airport, and how her community is coming together to demand answers and solutions to the problem of unsafe drinking water.