Like many communities, we have become acutely aware of the concerns around Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been used in manufacturing for more than six decades. They are found in numerous everyday commercial and consumer products, including food packaging, cosmetics, fabrics, cleaning products, nonstick cookware, and firefighting foam. Yet, only of late have potential health impacts from PFAS come to light.
Late last year, local officials learned that a Henderson company had reported that it found PFAS in soil and groundwater around its facilities and self-reported its findings to state environmental leaders. The company, Shamrock Technologies Inc., is currently working with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet to assess the levels and locations of PFAS in the community.
Even since we started learning more about this and making plans to form this Working Group, the issues around these types of “forever” chemicals have been in the news a lot both nationally (because it impacts communities everywhere) and locally.
Unfortunately, the EPA and scientific community have not moved quickly enough to provide the resources communities like ours need to understand who is most affected by PFAS in the environment, consumer products and food. To date, these substances have not been regulated, and, in any case, the City would not have any regulatory authority over it.
We want answers and hope the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent PFAS Roadmap is the beginning of a fast process to collect data, share information, and help regulate PFAS in order to protect every person in every community in America.
And that is the main reason we are forming this PFAS Working Group with community partners in public health, economic development, our water utility and others. We will also invite citizen involvement. We just want to better understand what this means for us as a community so we will know how to act and react.
We want the Working Group to help us and our citizens better understand the personal and public health impacts of PFAS.
This project involves a complicated environmental matter that has implications on our community.
Given that the City of Henderson has no regulatory authority, we felt our most important role was to gather information for our community and share it with local leaders and the public.
We are currently in a fact-finding phase and sought help from a C2 Strategic Communications, a communications firm that specializes in public outreach and communications. They are helping us put together educational resources to inform our citizens about PFAS and related matters.
We take seriously the health and safety of all citizens of Henderson, and we all have many questions about PFAS and its effects.
For more information on PFAS, visit https://www.epa.gov/pfas.