Skip Navigation
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
Home | Careers | Press Room | Opinions | Español | Other Languages | Contact Us

November 15, 2021


Chicago  — Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 19 attorneys general, urged the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to strengthen public health and environmental protections against “forever chemicals.” These chemicals, a class of highly toxic chemical compounds known as poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are widespread, persistent contaminants in the environment, including in drinking water.

In a letter addressed to EPW leadership, Raoul and the coalition argue that the serious dangers posed by PFAS, combined with the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that Illinois and other states are currently spending to protect residents from these dangers, call for swift congressional action.

“These ‘forever chemicals’ pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of our communities and cause long-lasting damage to the environment,” Raoul said. “I urge the Senate to provide funding and support to areas that have high levels of these chemicals, and work to reverse the damage from their use.”

Raoul and the coalition are urging the EPW Committee to “pass or build on” the bipartisan PFAS Action Act of 2021, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July. Specifically, the attorneys general’s letter identifies several legislative priorities, including:

  • Promoting the prompt and effective cleanup of PFAS by designating the chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law.
  • Protecting public health by designating PFAS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the federal Clean Air Act and prohibiting the unsafe incineration of the chemicals.
  • Protecting public health by establishing national drinking water standards for PFAS and controlling PFAS discharges.
  • Providing funding for drinking water suppliers to clean up PFAS in their drinking water.
  • Providing funding to states to protect against and respond to PFAS contamination.
  • Making medical screening available to all U.S. Department of Defense personnel and members of the public who may have been exposed to elevated levels of PFAS.
  • Prohibiting the use and limiting the storage of PFAS-containing firefighting foam at federal facilities.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used to produce countless consumer products since the 1940s, including textiles with Scotchgard; Teflon products, including nonstick cookware; food packaging; and waterproof clothing. Firefighting foam containing PFAS also has been used for decades by the U.S. military, airports, industrial facilities and local fire departments. PFAS are estimated to be detectable in the blood stream of 99% of the U.S. population.

PFAS generally appear to be highly toxic to humans and animals, and they are extremely resistant to degradation in the environment, which is why PFAS are known as “forever chemicals.” Although scientific knowledge regarding PFAS still is developing, some PFAS are linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Exposure to the two most studied types of PFAS are associated with kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, immune system effects and other conditions.

Joining Raoul in sending today’s letter to the Senate EPW Committee are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Return to November 2021 Press Releases

go to top of page

© 2020 Illinois Attorney General HomePrivacy Policy Contact Us