World November 15, 2016 | 9:59 am

PFC pollution near chemical companies puts residents’ health at risk

Vicenza, Italy, 14 Nov.- Greenpeace launcheda report today, identifying four pollution hotspots around the globe wherechemical companies producing per – and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) havecontaminated the environment and are raising concerns on the consequences amongresidents living in surrounding areas.

Currently, the majority of evidence regardingnegative health effects refers to long chain PFCs (eg. PFOA and PFOS). Whilethe US and Europe have mostly replaced long chain PFCs with shorter chain PFCs,in China PFOA is still being used in some factories. But concerns over shortchain PFCs are also growing: more than 200 scientists from 38 countries havesigned a statement discouraging the use of all PFCs — including short chain —in the manufacture of consumer goods. To avoid repeating the severe damagecaused by long chain PFCs, Greenpeace is calling for a ban of the entirehazardous PFC group.

Greenpeace’s Outdoor Campaign — along withoutdoor lovers around the world — is asking the outdoor sector to showleadership and eliminate all PFCs from their production by 2020. Some outdoorbrands and suppliers are already in the process of eliminating PFC from theirproduction. But others are still heavily reliant on short chain PFCs to maketheir gear — such as shoes, jackets and sleeping bags — waterproof.

The evidence presented in Greenpeace’sItaly’s PFC Pollution Hotspots: How PFCs are entering our bodies report,features the impact of accumulated long chain PFC pollution over productionyears at chemical plants in Italy, the Netherlands, China and the USA. In somecases, a high incidence of contamination was found, including the presence ofPFCs in surface water, drinking water, groundwater as well as air and dust.Data from third-party investigations all showed that contamination had spreadfrom the environment to the residents of local communities.

“PFC contamination is affecting communitiesliving near production sites around the world,” said Mirjam Kopp, Detox Outdoorproject leader. “The Outdoor industry is one of many industries that currentlyrely on PFCs. We strongly believe that outdoor brands have to take on theresponsibility to be a game-changer in the chain of PFC pollution. That’s whywe are calling on brands and suppliers to accept the challenge to Detox,”concluded Kopp.

In a video launched by Greenpeace Italytoday, Dr. Vincenzo Cordiano from the contaminated region in Veneto, Italy,says: “From a medical point of view, the populations exposed to PFAAs (PFC)contamination, in particular the ones living in the surrounding areas of PFCmanufacturing plants, cannot be considered safe.”

Once released in the environment, some PFCscan enter the food chain and many of them degrade very slowly, making pollutionalmost irreversible.

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