SACRAMENTO, California -- This week, both Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are taking action to combat a class of so-called "forever chemicals" called Perfluorinated and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS) found in thousands of consumer products, but environmental groups say change isn't coming fast enough.
Tuesday, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., co-introduced the PROTECT Act, which would put several types of PFAS chemicals on the EPA's list of Hazardous Air Pollutants, regulated under the Clean Air Act.
Monday, the EPA released a plan to combat PFAS air pollution.
Andria Ventura, legislative and policy director for Clean Water Action in California, said state authorities should test all water systems and go after polluters.
"We have enough data now to recognize PFAS as both persistent and toxic, and we need to take definitive action quickly," Ventura asserted.
A report from the Natural Resources Defense Council found drinking water systems across California are contaminated with PFAS, with the highest levels found in parts of Alameda, Fresno, Riverside, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles Counties.
In a statement, the American Chemical Council said not all PFAS chemicals should be regulated in the same way and called for a science-based approach. PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancers, reproductive problems, high cholesterol, and more.
In recent years, California has banned PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam, children's products, and food wrappers. And the state is currently testing soil and water at multiple landfills, airports, military bases, and oil and gas production areas.
Ventura pointed out the chemicals are probably even more widespread.
"We find PFAS where we don't expect them because these things are not only persistent, but they travel easily in the environment," Ventura observed.
Clean Water Action advised people who want to reduce their exposure to PFAS chemicals to avoid non-stick pans as well as items advertised as water, stain, and grease-resistant.
Source: California News Service