National Perspective: Environmentalists Tackle Chemicals Hospitals Use to Save Lives

We see it now with a debate over a group of chemicals that the so-called progressives have made haram, even though these chemicals are essential to our modern quality of life. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS chemicals, are a diverse family of chemicals manufactured in the United States since the 1940s. According to the EPA, PFASs are used in a variety of industries, including food packaging, products. household appliances, electronics, paints, etc.

Now, despite the said environmental protection agency not listing PFAS in its main list of common sources of drinking water contaminants, environmentalists have targeted it. Currently, the PFAS Action Act requires the EPA to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances and remove them from our daily lives.

The PFAS Action Act is co-sponsored in the House by New Hampshire Representatives Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas and in the Senate by Senses Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen. They have all made attacks on PFAS a regular part of their political rhetoric.

Rather than acknowledge the science that there are over 5,000 different types of PFAS that should be treated differently, according to the EP, this hastily drafted piece of legislation puts them all – in a rather unscientific way – into one basket.

The PFAS action law would drain money and resources and serve as a gift to greedy trial lawyers pushing baseless claims.

If history is any guide, broad product bans end up doing more harm than good. Government overreactions fueled by emotion and media anecdotes tend to create more chaos and confusion than if public policy were informed by logic.

When the ridiculously named mad cow disease was discovered in 2003, panic erupted around the world. U.S. ranchers and processors lost an estimated $ 11 billion from 2004 to 2007 after import bans, as reported by Reuters and others, even though there have only been six mad cow cases since. 2003, according to the CDC. It was almost as crazy as New Zealand’s complete lockdown over a COVID-19 case.

Another example is the “beepocalypse”, when genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and insecticides have been blamed for letting large numbers of bees abandon their colonies. Current science suggests viruses were to blame, and bee populations have been on the rise for more than a decade. However, attacks and baseless bans of GMOs and insecticides have harmed agriculture across the world.

These overreactions are like, pardon the idiom, killing a fly with an elephant gun. Similar actions against PFAS would wreak havoc on the global economy.

We wouldn’t have affordable smartphones without PFASs, which play a role in everything from semiconductors to data center coolants. Currently, the world is suffering from a global semiconductor shortage, and heavy regulations would increase costs for the 275 million smartphone users in the United States. Moreover, they would make mobile devices unaffordable for the unbanked people of the developing world whose phones allow cheap access to financial services they never would have had before.

PFAS chemicals also play a vital role in the medical industry. In addition to their use in a variety of life-saving medical devices, PFAS polymers are essential for gowns and drapes, as their contamination resistance properties reduce infections. Single-use gown and drape sets offer the highest rates of disease control, according to the American Journal of Infection Control, and are only affordable with PFAS.

Given the COVID-19-sized elephant in the room, it seems like now is a really bad time to make it easier for people to catch illnesses while in hospital.

These compounds even play an essential role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cars. Modern on-road emissions standards would be unachievable without PFAS, according to PlasticsEurope.

In addition, thanks to the cleaning efforts of DuPont, Chemours, 3M, Daikin Industries Ltd. and others, the amount of pollution from PFAS is decreasing. Since 2000, average blood levels of PFOS and PFOA have declined by 84% and 70%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while other recent reports show that U.S. bodies of water contain only traces of PFAS, and these quantities are on the decline.

The histrionic and grandiose efforts to tackle this group of benign but beneficial chemicals have no scientific basis. America couldn’t afford this kind of over-regulation under normal circumstances, let alone while we are recovering from the coronavirus. The elephant must let the rider lead this time.

Jared Whitley is a longtime DC politician, having worked in the US Senate, the White House under President George W. Bush, and in the defense industry.


NEW: “First PFAS fish consumption advisory issued for Lake Superior smelt“, January 15

NEW: “Lake Superior contaminants face a year of scrutiny, January 27

NEW: “MPCA sounds the alarm: old landfills leaking contaminants in Northland, statewide, “March 18

NEW: “No easy target for new contaminant, says Duluth wastewater agency”, April 24

OPINION: “Pollutants have become a crisis for Minnesota fishermen”, May 15

NEW: “PFAS chemicals found in Minnesota city water associated with health problems, June 27

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