Many of the 11,000-plus active and closed landfills in the U.S. could be contaminated with the “forever chemicals known as PFAS, creating increased health risks for the low-income communities and communities of color that are often located close to these sites.

Experts estimate that every year 16,500 pounds of PFAS end up in landfills from discarded household goods, industrial waste and more. About 1,100 pounds of these chemicals get released, creating air pollution problems for people living nearby. 

And 1,760 pounds of PFAS escape through liquid waste called landfill leachate, contaminating groundwater and drinking water. At some landfills, PFAS are detected at levels in the tens of thousands of parts per trillion, or ppt. That’s dramatically higher than the 4 ppt drinking water limit the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed for six PFAS.

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