Mark Ruffalo Uses Star Power to Push For Passage of PFAS Legislation
Yesterday, in a tour-de-force of star power, the actor and activist Mark Ruffalo crisscrossed Washington. D.C. — from a Washington Post Live event, to a Capitol Hill press conference, to testifying at a House hearing answering questions from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, to a screening of his new film “Dark Waters” at the Motion Picture Association — all to make the point that it is high time for the government to act to keep the public safe from a little-known but ubiquitous toxin called PFAS (also known as “Forever Chemicals” because they never break down) that can now be found in the bloodstream of 99% of all Americans. The goal of this full-court press, and the well-timed release of the film, is to push Congress to pass legislation to fund the cleanup of contamination from and mandating the regulation of a class of man-made chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “PFAS,” that are used in hundreds of products from cosmetics to flame retardant clothing to fire fighting foam to Teflon coatings and have been found to cause a myriad of health problems including high cholesterol, thyroid disease and cancer.
Why This Matters: PFAS is the toxin in all of us. The largest epidemiological study ever done in the U.S. concluded in 2011 that PFAS is linked to ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, among other health problems. It can be found in the drinking water of more than 100 million Americans today. And yet is it totally legal to dump it into rivers and landfills without a federal permit or any notice to nearby residents. In the House hearing that echoed the impeachment one nearby, witnesses told a sordid story of corporate greed, a massive cover-up, and the determination of a few good Americans to hold the chemical companies and the government accountable. At the “other” hearing, the lead witness said, “This is America, and here, right matters.” We hope that is true when it comes to environmental crimes, as well as high crimes and misdemeanors.
DuPont Tried Not To Appear Rattled
The company continues to deny any wrong-doing even though it was basically caught red-handed (sound familiar?) and settled an initial set of lawsuits for $671M. They sent a long statement to The Washington Post on Monday, which was read in its entirety at the Live event. Here is the key passage:
“DuPont is in the business of creating essential innovations the world needs today. Hollywood is in the business of telling stories. While seeking to thrill and entertain, these stories often stretch facts. Unfortunately, this movie claims to be inspired by real events and appears to grossly misrepresent things that happened years ago, including our history, our values, and science. The film’s previews depict wholly imagined events. Claims that our company tried to hide conclusive scientific findings are inaccurate. We have always and will continue to work with those in the scientific, not-for-profit and policy communities who demonstrate a serious and sincere desire to improve our health, our communities, and our planet.”
To Go Deeper: Watch the full hearing here. Read the transcript of The Washington Post Live event here. Most importantly, go see the movie — it opens in theaters on Friday — so you can learn more about PFAS contamination and the heroic people who exposed it.
What You Can Do: Join the “Fight Forever Chemicals” campaign — click here to learn more and get involved.