Residents hear testimonies about PFAS chemicals at Senate hearing in Washington D.C. | Michigan Radio
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Residents hear testimonies about PFAS chemicals at Senate hearing in Washington D.C.

Sep 27, 2018

More than 20 Michigan residents attended a U.S. Senate hearing on PFAS chemicals in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who convened the hearing, has asked for faster action from the federal government to clean up groundwater that's contaminated by the chemicals.

PFAS chemicals are often used in firefighting foam and waterproofing materials. And some of the chemicals have been linked to cancer and other health issues.

Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program with the National Institutes of Health, says more research is needed. That's because there are more than 4,000 kinds of PFAS chemicals.

“We do not have data for thousands of PFAS that have not been well studied,” Birnbaum said.

Birnbaum says people working in factories that use PFAS are the very susceptible to breathing in the chemicals. She also says it’s hard for the body to get rid of these chemicals.

“So these chemicals build up, not only in the environment, but also in our bodies,” she said.

Cody Angell, Kent County resident and co-founder of the citizens group Michigan Demands Action, attended yesterday’s hearing. Angell is upset with how federal agencies spoke about the chemical contamination.

“What I saw during this hearing was the [Department of Defense] and the EPA protecting the image of the agencies rather than the citizens they represent,” Angell said.