Report from National PFAS conference

Just back from the exhilarating, overwhelming and inspiring Second National PFAS Conference at Northeastern University in Boston


Some brief observations: The Scientific community has responded to the threat with a blizzard of studies investigating the harm from PFAS and how to prevent it. We heard reports on studies of everything from toxicological modeling to treatment technologies.

The affected communities are more numerous, energized and outraged than ever. As more PFAS testing is done, more contamination is discovered, and more people affected. And the political pressure for action will increase exponentially, especially because the media is seriously interested in covering this story in depth.

The line level people in Government agencies are deeply concerned and want to take action. Many EPA attendees expressed their concerns and frustrations at the inaction of their leadership

While EPA’s leadership languishes, the States need to step up. Many, like New Jersey, New York, Michigan and Vermont, are moving or have moved quickly and effectively.

Others, like Pennsylvania, continue to lag behind inexcusably.

If there was one bombshell at the conference, it was Linda Birnbaum’s statement that one of the studies under the auspices of her agency, NIEHS, is showing a link between PFAS exposure to pancreatic cancer in animals that is so strong it would justify lowering the Health Advisory Level from EPAs current 70 ppt to 0.5 ppt— a reduction of more than 99%!!
This is especially worrying because health studies in the contaminated areas of Bucks and Montgomery Counties show an increased rate of pancreatic cancer.


New research shows other impacts from these chemicals, including male infertility, childhood obesity, increased hospitalizations of children for infectious diseases; reduced kidney function; and changes in hormone levels at birth and during childhood. A study done in West Africa on the relation between PFAS levels on the effect of the measles vaccine added to evidence that the chemicals interfere with childhood immunity and weaken the effect of vaccines. A big question was raised about the measles epidemic; if any of these children WERE vaccinated against the measles, and still got it, did PFAS play a role?

Returning to Pennsylvania, I and the other members of the Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water will continue the fight to get Pennsylvania to step up and protect our residents against exposure.