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May 12, 2021

Tong, state AGs call for tougher monitoring of ‘forever chemicals’

Photo | Office of Attorney General William Tong Attorney General William Tong.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong this week joined with his counterparts in 19 other states calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to step up monitoring of public drinking water systems for PFAS substances, which have been classified as especially resilient “forever chemicals.”

In comments submitted to EPA officials on Tuesday, the state attorneys general asked for closer monitoring of 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, which have come under increased scrutiny in recent years after being linked to illnesses such as thyroid disease and some cancers.

"Expanded PFAS testing is vital to ensure the safety of our drinking water and to protect public health," Tong said in a statement. "Once we have comprehensive testing and reporting, that information must be used to target remediation and aid to communities most impacted by these dangerous forever chemicals."

PFAS substances have water-resistant properties and have been used in stain repellents, polishes, paints and industrial coatings. They were initially thought to be inert, but research over the last three decades has shown that PFAS chemicals are resistant to environmental degradation and can build up to dangerous levels in the human body.

Studies suggest the PFAS class of chemicals can cause high cholesterol, hypothyroidism, immune dysregulation, low birth weights and certain cancers at high enough concentrations.

Many PFAS substances are no longer manufactured in the U.S., but years of production and use have polluted an untold number of sites, particularly military bases, firefighting training centers and airports.

The issue of PFAS contamination gained heightened visibility in Connecticut in June 2019, when firefighting foam containing PFAS spilled into the Farmington River in Windsor. Gov. Ned Lamont subsequently convened a task force to study the problem, and in November 2019 the group recommended widespread testing of drinking water sources throughout the state.

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