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The Problem With PFAS Chemicals

Maryland should protect the public from exposure to PFAS chemicals in our products, food, water, and air.

PFAS chemicals accumulate in our bodies and have been linked to harmful health effects including cancer, hormone disruption, immune suppression, reproductive problems, and developmental issues.

The CDC has found these chemicals in the bodies of nearly every American they have tested.

PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) are a class of more than 9000 chemicals used to make products grease- or water-proof. They are commonly used in cookware, food packaging, outdoor apparel, carpets, and firefighting foams. PFAS are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. People are mostly exposed to PFAS through contaminated food and water.

The Problem with PFAS

Across the country, the drinking water of millions of Americans is tainted by toxic chemicals called PFAS, which are linked to cancer and other illnesses. Maryland, like many states, does not require testing for PFAS in drinking water, but some government and independent testing has uncovered contamination in and around more than a dozen military sites in Maryland and in drinking water, seafood, and our waterways. Recent research found high levels of PFAS chemicals in striped bass, blue crab and oyster from the Chesapeake Bay, as well as in drinking water from household taps in Montgomery County. Additional research suggests that PFAS chemicals are likely present at some level in drinking water across the state and country. 

People are also exposed to PFAS in consumer products around their home and in food and food packaging. 

  • <h4>Toxic PFAS in our drinking water</h4><p>PFAS chemicals are polluting our waterways and have been found in <p><p>drinking water in Maryland and nationwide.
  • <h4>PFAS chemicals harm our health</h4><p>Exposure to PFAS if water, food, and consumer products<p><p> has been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.
  • <h4>Where are PFAS?</h4><p> PFAS chemicals are used in a variety of products including<p><p>cookware, food packaging, outdoor apparel, carpets and rugs.
  • <h4>PFAS in firefighting foam</h4><p> Firefighting foam for civilian and military use is a major source of PFAS contamination— <p><p>but safer PFAS-free foams already exist and have been adopted around the world.
  • <h4>Protect our air and water</h4><p> To protect our air and water we need to prevent the mass disposal of <p><p>PFAS chemicals in Maryland landfills and incinerators.
  •  <h4>Make polluters pay</h4><p> The companies that produce PFAS chemicals must be<p><p>held accountable for putting our health and drinking water at risk.
"Forever Chemicals"

PFAS chemicals don’t break down in the environment, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals,” and can be found almost everywhere in small concentrations. They also build up in our bodies over time, a dangerous combination.

Protecting Children and Families from PFAS Exposure

In an age of remarkable technological progress, we should be able to make food packaging, carpets, and cookware without putting our drinking water and health at risk. In order to protect our communities from exposure to toxic PFAS, we need to comprehensively addresses PFAS contamination:

  • Turn off the tap on new contamination: stop the use of PFAS in food packaging, consumer products, and fire fighting foam.
  • Hold polluters accountable: ensure that chemical manufacturers are legally and financially responsible for contamination of our waterways from PFAS.
  • Protecting our air and water by stopping the mass disposal of these chemicals by incineration and landfilling.
  • Regularly test for PFAS contamination in our drinking water and waterways and set strong standards for contamination.
50 Years of Protecting Public Health

We know we can make a difference on this issue.

Over the past 50 years, Maryland PIRG and our national network has been a leader in protecting public health from exposure to toxic chemicals in our communities and drinking water through research, education and corporate advocacy. 

Along with our national network we’ve helped eliminate toxic chemicals from art supplies, advocated for cleanup of toxic waste sites, and reduced esposure to dozens of toxic chemicals in consumer products and drinking water. 

Most recently in Maryland we helped protect Maryland families and fire fighters from toxic flame retardant chemicals in children’s products, furniture, and mattresses and helped reduce exposure to lead in school drinking water.