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Addressing PFAS Pollution in Washington D.C.

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC., May. 15, 2019 - Florida activist, Stel Bailey, joined community leaders from across the country and cast members in the documentary "The Devil We Know" in Washington, D.C., to help Congress understand the importance of addressing the national drinking water crisis and PFAS contamination.

In around 100 meetings, members educated lawmakers about the specifics of contamination and urged them to support nonpartisan efforts to safeguard communities nationwide. Many Congress representatives recognized the importance of addressing PFAS pollution and expressed interest in creating nonpartisan policies.

In addition to the meetings, the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee in the House held a hearing on 13 PFAS policies, including a bill that requires the EPA administrator to designate the whole class of PFAS chemicals as a hazardous substance under Superfund (CERCLA), which means they would be eligible for cleanup using existing authority.

Stel Bailey, Emily Marpe, and her daughter
Powerful testimony from Emily Marpe, a mother of three from New York whose drinking was contaminated with PFAS, helped make a case for regulation: “I lost myself, my kids lost their mom, I was consumed with PFOA. I couldn’t research enough. I still attend meetings today; it is my job to protect my family. The safety and security of our home fell from under our feet.” The hearing furthered discussions on this critical issue.

Stel Bailey was raised in Brevard County, Florida, where three active installations utilized AFFF firefighting foam and detected the nation's third-highest levels of PFAS chemicals. In 2013, her uncle, family dog, brother, father, and herself were diagnosed with cancer. Bailey began crowdsourcing medical information from neighbors, classmates, and surrounding communities in 2014. She first learned of the PFAS contamination when the DoD report came out at the beginning of 2018.

Bailey formed Fight for Zero, a nonpartisan grassroots organization, and began independent testing with results of harmful contaminates in canals, rivers, wells, and traces of PFBA in the drinking water. She campaigned to safeguard military families, children, and communities from harmful toxins.

Certain states are leading the way in safeguarding the public against hazardous toxic chemicals, such as PFAS, by prohibiting their use in firefighting foam and consumer goods like cookware and creating protective limits for drinking water. The federal government also plays a crucial role, as demonstrated by the recent trip to Washington, D.C., highlighting the pressing need to address PFAS contamination as a critical public health issue.

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