Congressman Jim McGovern and State Senator Jo Comerford teamed up for a constituent briefing on PFAS. An incredible lineup of presenters (listed below) focused on PFAS and discussed what it is and what’s happening in Massachusetts to ban PFAS in the Commonwealth. To view the slides shared, scroll to the bottom of this page and click the blue button labeled “Slideshow.”
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of 9,000+ toxic chemicals used to make products stain proof, water resistant and stick proof. But research links PFAS exposure in humans to cancer, immunosuppression, low fertility, and developmental issues in children and infants. The health impacts of PFAS are magnified because they accumulate in the food chain and in our bodies and persist in the environment indefinitely. Ninety-eight percent of Americans tested have measurable levels of PFAS in their blood. When PFAS-tainted products are disposed of in trash or compost, PFAS remains and enters soil, groundwater, and drinking water.
Congressman McGovern is a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, and has introduced legislation at the federal
level, the Protecting Firefighters from PFAS Act, to combat the public health dangers of PFAS exposure by directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create safer PFAS standards, and to strengthen oversight of the gear that firefighters use.
As Senate Chair of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, Senator Comerford has introduced S.1387, An Act restricting toxic PFAS chemicals in consumer products to protect our health, legislation to ban the sale of a number of common sources of PFAS, including child car seats, cosmetics, cookware, upholstered furniture, fabric treatments, rugs, and carpets if they contain PFAS.
• Dr. David Reckhow, Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts
Dr. David Reckhow has been on the Faculty of the University of Massachusetts since 1985, and is currently research professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering. His teaching and research areas include removal of chemical pollutants in water, and aquatic organic matter in natural systems and drinking waters. Dave has recently served as Director of an EPA drinking water center, the Water Innovation Network for Sustainable Small Systems (WINSSS) and is Principal Investigator for many projects on natural organic matter, and anthropogenic contaminants in water, including PFAS and disinfection byproducts. The Massachusetts Legislature established a PFAS Interagency Task Force to review and investigate water and ground contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances across the Commonwealth. Dr. Reckhow is a member of this task force which plans to complete a report with policy recommendations by December 31 of this year.
• Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director, Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG)
Deirdre Cummings is MASSPIRG’s Legislative Director and runs MASSPIRG’s public health, consumer protection and tax and budget programs. Deirdre also oversees a Consumer Action Center in Weymouth, Mass., which has mediated 18,000 complaints and returned $5 million to Massachusetts consumers since 1989. Deirdre has worked for MASSPIRG since 1986, running numerous field, citizen outreach and state-wide ballot campaigns.
• Maureo Fernández y Mora, Associate Director, Clean Water Action Massachusetts
Maureo Fernández y Mora has been with Clean Water Action since 2016, beginning in the field canvass before transferring into the position of Drinking Water Advocate in 2018, and into their current role as Associate Director in 2020. Maureo works to prioritize the voices of frontline communities to better guide his work.
• Himaja Nagireddy, Presidential Public Service Fellowship, Harvard University
Himaja Nagireddy is currently an MS candidate in Environmental Health Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health pursuing a concentration in Infectious Disease Epidemiology. This summer, she serves as a Public Health Fellow for Senator Comerford through the Presidential Public Service Fellowship at Harvard. Her academic and research interests include environmental health and infectious disease epidemiology.