Mark Ruffalo is among those praising the Environmental Protection Agency for its move, announced Friday, to designate two “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to cancer and other health issues, as hazardous substances under the Superfund law.
The EPA’s proposed rule will require that releases of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds into soil or water be reported to federal, state or tribal officials if they meet or exceed certain levels, which could facilitate cleanup efforts.
While the two compounds, PFOA and PFOS, part of a larger class of PFAS “forever chemicals,” have been voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers, the substances don’t degrade in the environment and instead accumulate in humans and animals over time, and are believed to be in the blood of 99 percent of Americans.
PFAS have been linked to multiple diseases, including types of cancer. The man-made synthetics were used in consumer products and industry since the 1940s, including in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products and even non-stick cookware.
“We have all paid for decades — in the forms of higher health care costs and higher drinking water bills — for one of the greatest environmental crimes in history,” Ruffalo said, according to a statement obtained by the New York Times, which Ruffalo also tweeted. According to The Times, Ruffalo said the move would hold chemical polluters accountable.
Ruffalo helped to spotlight the issue of PFAS through his role as real-life attorney Rob Bilott in the 2019 environmental legal thriller Dark Waters, directed by Todd Haynes. Following the release of the film, Ruffalo and other advocates joined forces on Dark Waters production company Participant Media’s Fight Forever Chemicals campaign, urging companies to remove forever chemicals from their products and consumers to not support these products. The campaign also supported labeling such chemicals as hazardous substances and setting an enforceable drinking water standard.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Dark Waters‘ release, Bilott was hopeful the film would bring the public health issue to a wider audience.
Bilott told the Associated Press Friday that the EPA’s proposal “sends a loud and clear message to the entire world that the United States is finally acknowledging and accepting the now overwhelming evidence that these man-made poisons present substantial danger to the public health and the environment.”