Skip to content
Apply
Stories

What lessons should we learn from the PFAS crisis?

Union of Concerned Scientists, December 2020

How a problem is framed often shapes the range of solutions considered. Ubiquitous global contamination by PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), human-synthesized chemicals that are water and grease repellent and found in human blood, drinking water, and wildlife, is a problem that has been framed in a number of ways. While environmental regulation is often framed as driven by scientific knowledge, our research finds that in U.S. the implementation of chemical regulation is more commonly driven by scientific ignorance and corporate malfeasance.

PFAS is a family of more than 6,000 compounds often referred to as “emerging contaminants,” which means that we require further study in order to adequately understand them—let alone regulate them. Yet, in truth we have decades of knowledge about PFAS, dating back to chemical manufacturers uncovering evidence of human health effects only revealed in litigation. Thus, the nature of how we experience ignorance varies greatly, depending on how one is positioned: chemical manufacturers who have discretion to disclose or withhold information, regulators who operate with limited access to data, and communities and consumers who experience total surprise when told PFAS are in their blood and drinking water.

Continue reading at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

More Stories

NU Boston’s 3rd annual bell hooks symposium: “Black Feminist World Making”

02.23.2024

In Memoriam: Ángel David Nieves

12.11.2023
Israeli students hold Palestinian and Israeli flags, during a demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new hard-right government, in Tel Aviv University's campus, on January 16, 2023. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

A generational divide on views of Israel … in both parties, according to new survey 

02.26.24
Northeastern Global News