Upholding Science and Protecting Environmental Health in the Era of “Fake News”: A Conversation with Investigative Reporter Sharon Lerner

February 28, 2018 @ 9:00am (AKST)

Sharon Lerner discusses her recent investigations into chemical industry cover-ups, the revolving door between industry employees and regulators, and industry challenges to the scientific evidence showing the danger of chemicals. On this call she will delve into her investigations into PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances) contamination of drinking water and talk about her 14 part series “The Teflon Toxin,” in which she exposes DuPont’s multi-decade cover-up of the severe harms to health associated with a chemical known as PFOA (or C8) and associated compounds such as PFOS and GenX. Sharon has written about many important subjects, but says her favorite stories are those that “show how we’ve gotten into the mess we’re in – and sometimes even how to get out of it.” This call is the first in a series of CHE-Alaska calls that will look into the important role of investigative journalism in holding industry and government accountable to protecting public health, especially under President Trump and with Scott Pruitt heading the EPA.

On this recording you will also hear a short update concerning the work of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and WATER (Wake-Up Alaskans to the Toxic Environmental Reality) to address PFAS contamination in Fairbanks associated with dispersion of aqueous firefighting foams (AFFF) in groundwater plumes from Eielson Air Force Base, the Regional Fire Training Center, and most recently, the Fairbanks International Airport. PFAS are a class of chemicals that are extremely persistent and widely used in industrial processes, firefighting foams for fuel-based fires, and consumer products such as carpets and upholstery, waterproof fabrics, non-stick cookware, food packaging, and personal care products. Read Sharon’s excellent, just-published report about PFAS contamination near airports and “regrettable substitutions” here.

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Sharon Lerner covers health and the environment for The Intercept and is a reporting fellow at the Investigative Fund. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, and The Washington Post, among other publications, and has received awards from The Society for Environmental Journalists, The American Public Health Association, the Women and Politics Institute, and The Newswoman’s Club of New York. Her series, The Teflon Toxin, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.

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