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PFAS and Environmental Justice Cross Paths Again

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report detailing its findings with respect to PFAS and environmental justice community impacts. The GAO utilized data from six states (Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and Vermont) that currently have drinking water standards and PFAS data collection regulations that are more stringent than current EPA regulations. The GAO took the data from the six states and examined the impact that PFAS is having on various communities and the drinking water in those communities.

“In Massachusetts, communities with higher percentages of non-White or Hispanic/Latino residents and/or families living in poverty were less likely than other communities to have PFAS in their drinking water. This was the converse situation in New Jersey. According to EPA officials, EPA does not currently have information to determine the extent to which disadvantaged communities are exposed to PFAS in drinking water nationally; however, the agency plans to collect comprehensive, nationwide data. Conducting a nationwide analysis using such data could help EPA understand whether PFAS in drinking water contributes to the cumulative burden of pollution in disadvantaged communities.”

The GAO recommended that the EPA utilize data on a more national scale to look more closely at how PFAS is impacting environmental justice communities, a proposition that the EPA agreed to enthusiastically. This is in line with the EPA’s stated intent for months to examine PFAS impacts on environmental justice communities as soon as its proposed drinking water standards become a final rule.

Without proper due diligence regarding environmental impacts of a project that will be disproportionately felt by marginalized communities, companies will increasingly see challenges in courts that focus on environmental justice issues. Risk mitigation begins with the simple step of recognizing the attention that environmental justice is receiving and incorporating environmental justice considerations into the planning phase.

©2023 CMBG3 Law, LLC. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 298
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About this Author

John Gardella Environmental Law Attorney CMBG3 Law Firm
Shareholder

John Gardella is a Shareholder at CMBG3 Law in Boston, a law firm specializing in the regulatory, litigation, and compliance aspects of numerous environmental and toxic torts issues. He is a member of the firm’s PFAS Team, which counsels clients on PFAS related issues ranging from state violations to remediation litigation. Mr. Gardella has over 15 years of experience litigating environmental and toxic torts matters, including asbestos, PFAS, benzene, lead paint, mold, talc, hazardous waste and pollution matters. He is a successful trial attorney with over 75 verdicts to...

617-279-8225
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