Troubling new report suggests water contamination widespread in Alaska

A coalition of health organizations today released a new report suggesting that a type of water contamination is widespread in Alaska.
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JUNEAU, Alaska – A coalition of health organizations today released a new report suggesting that a type of water contamination is widespread in Alaska.

Many water sources across the state are contaminated by perfluorinated alkylated substances, commonly known as PFAS chemicals, according to the report prepared by the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska PFAS Action Coalition, Gustavus PFAS Action Coalition, and Fairbanks W.A.T.E.R. (“Wake Up Alaskans to the Toxic Environmental Reality.”)

PFAS chemicals are contained in fire-fighting foams used on military bases and in airports in Alaska for many years, as well as for other commercial purposes. They are often known as “forever chemicals” because they persist and accumulate in our bodies and in the natural environment. Repeated exposure is known to cause significant health problems, including various types of cancer, endocrine and thyroid disease, liver damage, and pregnancy induced hypertension.

The following lawmakers released statements on the report’s findings:

“I proudly worked with the Department of Environmental Conservation this year to secure money to find out how far the problem goes. Now it’s time to decide the next steps to protect Alaskans’ health and safe drinking water. The recommendations in this report should kick off some serious conversations that lead to action.”

– Sen. Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau)

“Alaskans impacted by PFAS pollution and those concerned about the long-term impact of this class of toxins in our environment have given us a blueprint of what Alaska needs to do. We need to provide safe water and ensure cleanup of PFAS contaminated sites. We need to stop using PFAS compounds. We need comprehensive monitoring of all public water systems. I hope this report helps spur other lawmakers to this conclusion. I hope this report encourages the administration to join in the multi-state litigation against PFAS manufacturers. We need to take action now.

– Rep. Sara Hannan (D-Juneau)

“Alaskans have a right to clean drinking water. Sadly, across the state, from Fairbanks to Gustavus, Alaskans are on bottled water because their drinking water has been contaminated by PFAS. Today’s report tells us we are not doing enough. Most concerning to me is this report follows hearings we held in the Resources Committee where it was discovered the state had eliminated testing for multiple PFAS chemicals. We need a comprehensive plan to address PFAS contamination. I want the impacted Alaskans to know we stand with them in calling for immediate action.”

– Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), House Resources Committee Co-Chair