Clean Drinking Water Coalition Draws National Attention and EPA Action
For more than a year, Community Action Works has coordinated the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, working to build power in communities across the country to stop toxic drinking water contamination. Now, we are working for national change, with the communities most affected front and center.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is the toxic Teflon chemical found in non-stick pans and firefighting foam used at military bases across the country. The chemicals are linked to cancers, kidney disorders and more, and are estimated to be in the drinking water of more than 110 million people in the United States. Impacted communities have likely been drinking the toxics for decades.
But with your help, activists are organizing and fighting back. Last year, we brought local leaders together and formed the National PFAS Contamination Coalition, which now represents 20 communities in 13 states across the country. The coalition is making sure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives the toxic crisis the attention it deserves.
Last spring, as a result of community efforts, the EPA finally planned its first national meeting on PFAS but closed the door to affected community members. At the same time, word got out that federal agencies were hiding an important health study on PFAS that could lead to more protective health measures. The coalition took to social media to respond, using the hashtag #WeNeedASeat to show why community members need a seat at the table in decisions on drinking water, gaining national media attention.
In response to the grassroots pressure, national decision-makers reversed course and the EPA granted the coalition one seat at the national summit. Andrea Amico, co-founder of Testing for Pease in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, represented the coalition and met personally with former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The hidden study was released, revealing that PFAS is even more toxic than originally thought. And EPA officials are now meeting with community members across the country. The EPA held the first of a series of regional community meetings on PFAS in New Hampshire, and community leaders from across the region joined the two-day summit to share their stories and demand real action.
Locally, activists like Jillian Lane, co-founder of Greenland Safe Water Action in Greenland, New Hampshire, met with top officials in EPA Region 1. Officials traveled to the Coakley Superfund site near her home, which is leaking PFAS into the water supply, and heard directly from residents whose families have been impacted by illnesses linked to the chemicals.
The coalition is calling for a strong, enforceable national standard for PFAS in water that can be used to protect communities facing the toxic contamination for years to come. Together, we’re building the power we need to make it possible.