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Letter to the editor

Governor wrong on PFAS

To the editor: We are from the contaminated communities of Gustavus, Dillingham and Fairbanks. As community members directly harmed by PFAS contamination, we object to the state of Alaska’s recent decision to roll back the more protective drinking water standards implemented in 2018. We are additionally very concerned with the state’s decision to withhold further actions on chemicals that are known to harm human and environmental health, even at exceptionally low concentrations.

From May 17-19, we met in Gustavus with allies from Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council to gain a further common understanding of the science concerning health effects of PFAS and current state and federal policies that pertain to PFAS and to develop plans and strategies to address PFAS contamination. We will work collectively for positive change.

The state’s decision to respond to only two of the thousands of PFAS chemicals is not protective of human health, particularly that of infants, children and expectant mothers. A growing number of other states are establishing enforceable drinking water standards that are significantly more stringent than the EPA lifetime-health advisory. They rely on the scientific evidence that shows indisputably harmful biological activity of PFAS chemicals at low exposure levels.

The EPA lifetime-health advisory fails to incorporate critical risk factors such as placental and breast milk transfers to babies, nor does it include the sensitive endpoints of effects on mammary glands and immune suppression.

The ever-growing body of scientific research and health studies has been incorporated into the regulation of drinking water in the form of maximum contaminant levels for PFAS chemicals in at least eight states that have committed to be more health protective of their residents than the EPA.

We urge the governor to reconsider the decision to defer to the EPA rather than to protect the health of children and all Alaskans from the harms of PFAS. This is an urgent public health crisis that needs immediate action.

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