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Toxic PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ released by DuPont and Chemours caused significant harm

The longstanding issue of PFAS “forever chemical” pollution has once again come to the forefront, this time spotlighting American chemical giants DuPont and Chemours.

These companies have been identified by UN experts as having significantly contributed to the contamination of the environment through the discharge of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River basin.

This act not only shows a blatant disregard for environmental protection but also for the health and rights of the local communities affected.

“Forever Chemicals” compromising global health

For years, residents in these communities have faced barriers to accessing clean and safe water, a fundamental human right.

Despite possessing knowledge about the hazardous effects of PFAS on health and the environment, DuPont and Chemours continued their operations unfettered.

“Even as DuPont and Chemours had information about the toxic impacts of PFAS on human health and drinking water, the companies continued to produce and discharge PFAS,” the experts have pointed out.

PFAS, commonly known as ‘forever chemicals’ due to their persistent nature, pose a significant threat as they do not easily degrade, potentially causing harm for centuries.

These chemicals are ubiquitous, found in a wide range of consumer products from personal care items to fast food packaging, and even in stain-resistant coatings on textiles.

Their widespread use and resistance to degradation contribute to a global contamination crisis that demands urgent action.

EPA involvement: Regulatory oversight or oversight?

The UN experts have raised serious concerns about the apparent manipulation of regulatory efforts by these companies, notably accusing them of having “impermissibly captured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)” to thwart the regulation of PFAS chemicals.

This accusation underscores a broader failure of health and environmental regulators in the United States to safeguard against business-related human rights abuses.

Moreover, the experts criticized the response to legal actions taken against DuPont and Chemours. They highlighted that enforcement and remediation efforts have been grossly inadequate, further compromising the rights of affected communities to information and effective remedies.

Accountability gap in the PFAS saga

This situation is exacerbated by reported corporate restructuring within DuPont and Chemours, which, according to the experts, might impede accountability and the achievement of justice for the victims.

Adding to the controversy, reports of Chemours seeking an air permit to expand its PFAS production have intensified concerns, suggesting a continuous cycle of environmental disregard.

Amidst this, the spread of disinformation by the companies about the necessity of PFAS for technological advancements like semiconductors and their role in combating climate change has been criticized.

The UN experts have firmly stated in their comprehensive report, “Decarbonization strategies must be integrated with detoxification strategies and guided by human rights.”

Path forward in the fight against PFAS “forever chemicals”

In summary, the ongoing PFAS “forever chemical” crisis underscores a critical need for comprehensive action, demanding that companies like DuPont and Chemours be held accountable for their decades-long neglect of environmental and human health.

It highlights the urgency for stricter regulatory frameworks, informed by a commitment to human rights and environmental sustainability, to address and remediate the pervasive spread of these toxic chemicals.

As we move forward, integrating detoxification strategies with decarbonization efforts becomes imperative, ensuring that the quest for a greener future does not come at the cost of public health.

This moment calls for a united stance from global communities, regulators, and industries to confront and curb the PFAS contamination, paving the way for a cleaner, safer environment.


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