Ahead of 3M, DuPont Hearing on PFAS, Experts Urge Congress Make Polluters Pay

Statement from Environmental and Public Health Groups Calls for Immediate Action

Courtney Bourgoin, courtney.bourgoin@sierraclub.org  

Washington, DC-- Today, at a hearing titled “The Devil They Knew: PFAS Contamination and the Need for Corporate Accountability, Part III,” Congress will hear from corporations responsible for the nation’s per and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination crisis and the people suing the companies for negligence. PFAS chemicals-- linked to cancers, infertility and immune system failure in children-- are now in the blood of 99% of Americans and more than 100 million Americans’ drinking water. 

Before the hearing, representatives of organizations released the following statements:

“DuPont and 3M knew the devastating harm of PFAS for decades, yet continued to produce, sell and release the chemicals en masse. The executives testifying today hid studies showing how PFAS poisons drinking water and presents grave health risks for millions of Americans,” said Sonya Lunder, Senior Toxics Policy Advisor at the Sierra Club. “It’s time to make these polluters pay. Congress must urgently regulate the production, use and disposal of PFAS chemicals.”

"Polluters must be held accountable for the damages they’ve caused,” said Shaina Kasper, Water Program Director at Toxics Action Center. “Poisoned communities can no longer be handed the bill. We need to know that those responsible for the contamination in the first place are those who will pay for the filtration, clean up, and medical care."

"Millions of people across the country drink water contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals every day. Companies that release these toxic chemicals should be held accountable for cleaning up the mess,” said Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate with Environment America. “We need Congress to pass the PFAS protections in the National Defense Authorization Act into law. The bill would not only provide for cleanup but also prevent further contamination by limiting future uses of these dangerous chemicals. Families and communities deserve safe drinking water, and cannot afford to wait any longer."

“For decades, the chemical industry failed to tell the American public the truth about the dangers of PFAS, while communities greatly suffered from contamination of their drinking water and in their bodies,” said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future. “The military trusted the safety of PFAS firefighting foam, which now continues to be used, despite the harm it poses. It's time for Congress to stop trusting the makers of PFAS and require the military to use safer, effective firefighting foam alternatives as soon as possible.”

“For too long, states and communities have borne the price of cleaning up PFAS pollution. It is time for polluters to step up and clean up their mess and it is time for Congress to ban the use of all PFAS in firefighting foam,” said Sarah Doll, Executive Director of Safer States.

“Chemical companies have known that PFAS chemicals pose a serious threat to our health and the environment but they swept the risks under the rug in order to line their pockets,” said Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters.“We greatly appreciate the House Oversight Committee for taking these companies to task and urge Congress to finally hold these polluters accountable for the damage they have done to the well-being of our children and families.”

“It’s unconscionable that companies like DuPont and Chemours have been releasing these PFAS chemicals for decades that are by design highly persistent and highly mobile without ensuring that the chemicals are safe and without informing the community and consumers,” said Ansje Miller on the Sierra Club National Board of Directors. “These chemical companies must be held accountable and the public deserves the right to know how they might be exposed to a chemical like PFOA, GenX or any of their PFAS chemical cousins.”

 “We applaud the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Environment Subcommittee for keeping the spotlight on this important public health issue. Manufacturers have known for years about the health dangers of PFAS chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, Acting Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. “Now families across the U.S. are suffering. Congress must act to quickly end the use of PFAS-based firefighting foam and make polluters pay for cleaning up PFAS contamination.”

 “The time for DuPont and 3M to testify before Congress about their decades of deception over the dangers of PFAS has finally arrived,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at Environmental Working Group. “These companies and the entire chemical industry must be held accountable for their actions that secretly and deceitfully polluted the blood of virtually every American and the entire planet with these toxic chemicals.”

About the Hearing:

The first panel of witnesses will feature former Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and a Midwest-based law firm who filed lawsuits against 3M, DuPont and Wolverine for suppressing information on the extent of PFAS chemical pollution and its effects on health-- studies the companies hid from the public for decades. The second part of the hearing will include questioning of executives from 3M, DuPont and Wolverine on what they knew.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.