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Demanding a federal cleanup, a Long Island group releases a map of PFAS chemical use

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A Long Island environmental group released a map this week of where PFAS chemicals are being used at industrial facilities across the state. 

Federal data released last month shows more than 440 facilities on Long Island could be using harmful chemicals in manufacturing. Exposure to PFAS can lead to higher rates of cancers and other health issues. 

“It is not an overstatement when I say the crisis of PFAS is a national health crisis and it deserves a serious national response," said Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the Citizen Campaign for the Environment. "We deserve clean water, we deserve public health protection, that is what were expecting.”

Esposito wants stricter regulation of PFAS and a ban on its non-essential use, like in food packaging. PFAS is also used in manufacturing lubricant and firefighting foam. 

A bill awaiting New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature would mandate additional water quality testing of these chemicals.

The Biden administration declared PFAS a hazardous substance in October to help federal agencies speed clean-up efforts. Many former defense manufacturers and airports have higher levels of contamination.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has undertaken a federal analysis that’s found over 100,000 sites where the carcinogenic chemical has contaminated nearby drinking water wells.

But Esposito said the agency needs to go further and commit to have federal agencies clean up these sites.

“The EPA has really been MIA. We do not have a national drinking water standard. We do not have a national policy. They are not taking this serious,” Esposito said.

Natalie Discenza is a Sacred Heart News Fellow at WSHU. She is a native of Syracuse, New York.