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A recent report by Sharon Udasin for The Hill has shed light on a concerning issue within the U.S. justice system: nearly half of prisons may be facing exposure to harmful “forever chemicals” in their water supply. This revelation has raised concerns about health disparities and human rights issues within the system.

According to a study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, 47% of prison facilities are at risk of PFAS pollution, affecting around 990,000 individuals, including juveniles. The study highlights environmental justice concerns, noting the overrepresentation of marginalized communities within the prison population. Nick Shapiro, a senior author and medical anthropologist at UCLA, compared the incarcerated population to the fifth-largest city in the United States.

The significant number of U.S. prisons located in areas likely contaminated with PFAS compounds heightens the health risks faced by incarcerated populations, who are already in poorer health compared to the general population. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed drinking water standards for six “forever chemicals,” including PFAS, after years of advocacy by affected communities, scientists, and environmental activists. This underscores the broader threat that PFAS poses to U.S. drinking water and the urgent need to address this issue to protect public health.

In conclusion, this report highlights a serious issue that needs immediate attention from policymakers and regulators to ensure that incarcerated individuals are not exposed to harmful chemicals that can have long-term effects on their health and wellbeing.

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