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What is PFAS, and how'd it end up in our water?

Riverside Public Utilities
City of Riverside
Diagram showing products that contain the chemical PFAS.

KVCR's Jonathan Linden spoke with Dr. Linda Birnbaum about PFAS and how it's ended up in water here in the Inland Empire and across the world.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Portrait of the Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Linda Birnbaum.

Over the past few years in California, addressing PFAS in our water and other products has become a primary environmental issue. Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-1200, which will ban the use of PFAS in paper-based food packaging and require the disclosure of the chemical in cookware items such as pots and pans.

PFAS has been dubbed the "forever chemical," and according to the EPA, "PFAS are widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time."

KVCR's Jonathan Linden spoke with Dr. Linda Birnbaum who is an Adjunct Professor with the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. She has studied the effects of the chemical through her career and spoke of the dangers of PFAS and ways individuals can help combat the issue.

Also discussed was a PFAS water contamination map created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). According to EWG, "As of August 2021, 2,854 locations in 50 states and two territories are known to be contaminated(with PFAS)." On their map, you can view their PFAS water data for the Inland Empire cities of Corona, Riverside, Ontario, Rialto, and many more. You can CLICK HERE to view the map.

Jonathan Linden is a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and had previously interned for the station in the Spring of 2019. Outside of KVCR, Jonathan also interned for KALW in San Francisco, KFI in Burbank, and Radio HCJB in Quito, Ecuador.