The latest newsletter of the Michigan Catholic Conference was devoted to water. The bishops highlight the theological & social significance of water as well as some concerns with water quality in their state. The newsletter directly relates to our experience in Ohio as water plays a major role in our economy, our recreation, and our spirituality.
Pope Francis has said—and the Catholic Church has long taught—that “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right,” an element that is “essential to human survival” (Laudato Si, 2015).
Therefore, any impact to water quality should concern everyone. In addition to lead and algae blooms, a serious concern gaining attention at the state & federal level is the presence of fluorinated compounds (known as PFAS) in our water supply. PFAS are strong chemical compounds that resist heat and do not breakdown easily in the natural environment. They are used in foam fire suppressants especially on military bases, and their presence has been identified in soil & groundwater decades after their use has stopped.
To read more about PFAS on military bases, click here.
To read about PFAS in Ohio, click here.
We should all educate ourselves on PFAS and support state/federal efforts to research the impact(s) of these chemicals and to develop effective policies. As the Catholic sisters of Michigan stated in their 2019 Earth Day statement: “We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating quality of drinking water throughout our state, particularly as it impacts children and the most vulnerable. Exposure to lead and contamination by PFAS, toxic cyanobacterial blooms and other pollutants are placing the health of millions of residents in our state and the integrity of the world’s greatest body of fresh water increasingly at risk.”
Read the entire statement here.