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Toxic Prisons: Nearly Half of U.S. Prison Facilities at Risk for Harmful ‘Forever Chemicals’

Study finds health risks due to unsafe drinking water in U.S. prisons

Toxic Prisons: Nearly Half of U.S. Prison Facilities at Risk for Harmful ‘Forever Chemicals’

A recent study has uncovered a concerning issue in the U.S. prison system, with nearly half of its facilities at risk for harmful “forever chemicals” in their water supply. This poses potential health risks and raises concerns about human rights and health disparities in the justice system. According to the study, 47% of prison facilities are at risk of PFAS pollution, affecting around 990,000 individuals, including juveniles.

Researchers emphasized the vulnerability of incarcerated individuals to PFAS due to limited options for exposure mitigation. The findings highlight environmental justice issues, pointing out the overrepresentation of marginalized communities within the prison population. In fact, the incarcerated population spread across various facilities is equivalent to being the fifth largest city in the country.

This information is significant as it shows that a large number of prisons are located in areas with potential PFAS contamination, increasing health risks for incarcerated populations who are already in worse health compared to the general population. PFAS contamination is not only a concern within prisons but also a broader threat to U.S. drinking water. The EPA released proposed drinking water standards for six “forever chemicals” last year after continuous advocacy from affected communities, scientists, and activists for years.

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