Fracking & PFAS

The world is so small, at least when we’re talking pollutants. PFAS, or “forever chemicals” are a group of substances that is associated with numerous superfund sites in the US, many of them related to manufacturing sites that were operated by the military. I swear I read an excellent lengthy news report about one of those sites before which laid out in detail the suffering of the current residents–most of them minorities (of course…). Cannot find it anymore unfortunately, but it seems there are many stories out there. [Turns out, some fracking chemicals form PFAS as a side product.|] That’s not where the story gets interesting though. The interesting part is that the EPA knew since 2011, but failed to follow up. And that this issue has been revealed through a FOIA request by Physicians for Social Responsibility. The group does a great job at unveiling concerning developments, in an investigative journalism fashion. The takeaway is something I had in my mind for a longer time. (1) The EPA is not (always) on your side. (2) FOIAs are THE most important tool in our toolbox to shape discourse toward protecting humans and the environment. And (3) to make a positive impact requires an enormous amount of resources and patience. Many agencies fight tooth and nail to prevent a release of information. To obtain information, one frequently needs to follow up with the court, and be willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Only an organization that has significant financial resources and personnel continuity can succeed in pursuing an issue like that. And the number of organizations like that in the US can probably be counted on ~10 hands? I think that’s why its so easy for relevant information to go unnoticed, and for corporations to get away with polluting for extended periods of time.

Julian Barg


For attribution, please cite this work as

Barg (2021, July 12). Julian Barg: Fracking & PFAS. Retrieved from

BibTeX citation

  author = {Barg, Julian},
  title = {Julian Barg: Fracking & PFAS},
  url = {},
  year = {2021}