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When Todd Haynes’ environmental legal thriller Dark Waters hit theaters a few weeks ago, the Mark Ruffalo starrer earned comparisons to Erin Brockovich due to its focus on a crusading real-life whistle-blower fighting to protect people from dangerous chemicals in drinking water.
Now Brockovich herself is joining the “Fight Forever Chemicals” campaign launched by Dark Waters production company Participant Media.
Brockovich is one of a number of high-profile ambassadors working to raise awareness of the issues tackled in the film and the fight against forever chemicals, also known as PFAS, which have been linked to six diseases, including types of cancer. Such man-made synthetic chemicals don’t degrade in the environment, accumulate in humans and animals over time, and are believed to be in the blood of 99 percent of Americans.
“PFAS doesn’t care if you are from a red state or a blue state, are black or white, or rich or poor,” Brockovich said in a statement. “This fight is going to take all of us standing together to protect ourselves from a system that isn’t standing up for us.”
Other ambassadors include Piper Perabo; Nathaniel Rich, who wrote the New York Times magazine article on which the film is based; retired San Francisco firefighter captain Tony Stefani; experimental nuclear physics professor Graham Peaslee; and Water Canary CEO Sonaar Luthra.
“I’m deeply inspired by the momentum I’ve seen around the film, and I’m excited to join the fight against forever chemicals to ensure stronger environmental protections for the countless communities whose land is being ravaged by industrial pollution,” said Perabo in a statement. “It’s time to hold corporations accountable for their actions, and ensure a safer environment for all Americans.”
The campaign, which has already included efforts on Capitol Hill and will soon go on tour to states where people are greatly exposed to forever chemicals, aims to push companies to remove forever chemicals from their products and encourage consumers not to support those products. The campaign will also support federal protections that require testing, labeling such chemicals as hazardous substances and setting an enforceable drinking water standard.
“Dark Waters is the rare, brave film that dares to make a difference in the world. It’s thrilling to see [real-life subject] Rob [Bilott]’s heroism brought to vivid life by some of the most talented filmmakers working today,” Rich said. “No one who watches Dark Waters will look at their cookware, the chemical industry, or the U.S. government in the same way again.”
Stefani added, “Firefighters across the country are currently in the midst of an epidemic as cancer is now the number one cause of in-the-line-of-duty deaths. A new study found ‘unequivocal evidence’ that firefighters that have used foams made with fluoridated chemicals have ‘unacceptably’ high levels of both PFOS and PFHxS. These cancer-causing fluorinated chemicals must be eliminated!”
And Luthra said, “Forever chemicals present the most difficult water pollution challenge I have encountered in my years working in this space. They impact us all, and it will take all of us to solve this problem. Mark Ruffalo and Todd Haynes have done an incredible job of telling the complex story of how Rob Bilott discovered this crisis and gave us all a chance to fight it. There could not be a better time for Dark Waters, and [Bilott’s new book] Exposure, to be bringing this issue to light.”
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