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Five companies now must shell out millions of dollars to clean up hazardous chemical contamination in water and other sources throughout New Jersey (20.4% Latino).
The directive comes straight from the state Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and impacts five major corporations: Solvay, DuPont, Dow DuPont, Chemours, and 3M.
The companies’ money will go toward the removal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a manufactured, dangerous substance.
“Citing near daily findings of dangerous chemicals in New Jersey’s air, land, and water, the Department of Environmental Protection is identifying five companies it says are responsible for the extensive contamination and directing them to fund millions of dollars in assessment and cleanup efforts,” NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe said in a recent statement.
New Jersey is the first state to enact such a ruling that holds the companies responsible like this, according to the NJDEP.
One in five New Jersey residents receives contaminated tap water, according to the Environmental Working Group.
The directive outlines that for years, these companies polluted the state’s natural resources with a host of known cancer-causing chemicals. This kind of long-term pollution risks the lives of New Jersey residents and causes damage to the environment, according to McCabe.
Not only are these corporations going to have to pay out large sums, but they also must provide state officials with information concerning their work with PFAS.
“[PFAS] are discovered on a near-daily basis in New Jersey’s drinking water, groundwater, surface waters, sediments, soils, air, fish, plants and other natural resources,” the directive states. “They are cause for concern because none of the chemicals are naturally occurring; they do not break down in the environment; and research suggests they pose a variety of human health risks, even at low exposure, especially to developing fetuses and infants.”
Some of the companies are guardedly responding to the directive.
David Klucsik, a Solvay spokesperson, said the company plans to respond to this directive “appropriately,” following their review of its contents, according to NJ.com.
“Solvay has been responding to the presence of compounds in the vicinity of its West Deptford plant and has implemented remedial activities,” Klucsik said. “Solvay shares the information it gathers with the NJDEP, and Solvay maintains an ongoing dialogue with the Department and other stakeholders around its West Deptford site.”
Latinos in New Jersey
The median annual income of New Jersey Latinos is roughly $25,000, according to the Pew Research Center. Those numbers also show that 24% of that demographic lack health insurance.
Contaminated tap water means that not only are Latinos are exposed to PFAS, but they face greater danger due to the lack of financial security and medical coverage.
That’s a problem, especially when PFAS’ potential side-effects are considered:
- Cancer development
- Liver damage
- Low infant birth-weights
- Reducing women’s chance of pregnancy
- Affecting childhood development
The risks New Jersey Latinos face will still be great, even as the cleanup initiatives begin. These kinds of chemicals are harmful even in small doses, according to EWG President Ken Cook.
“Just because your tap water gets a passing grade from the government doesn’t always mean it’s safe,” Cook in a statement.
Greater Issues Ahead
Water contamination is also at risk at the national level. The EPA is proposing to roll back protections of thousands of wetlands, what experts call the “dirty water rule.”
“It’s time to stop basing environmental regulations on political or economic compromises, and instead listen to what scientists say about the long-term effects of toxic chemicals and empower Americans to protect themselves from pollutants even as they demand the protective action they deserve from government,” Cook said.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America! and the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) program at UT Health- San Antonio. To find out if you are TILTed due to exposure to everyday foods, chemicals, or drugs, take a self-assessment or learn more about TILT.