REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Movie night in Redwood City tackled a serious topic Friday, as Bay Area Congresswoman Jackie Speier and the Environmental Working Group worked to raise awareness about a group of so-called "forever chemicals" that have been found to accumulate in the human body and are working their way into drinking water sources.
The film "Dark Waters" is based on the true story of an attorney Robert Bilott who fights Dupont over chemical contamination of water.
The Environmental Working Group says the group of chemicals called per or polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS have been used since the 1940's in a wide range of consumer products.
"These are the non-stick chemicals like Scotch-guard, the non-stick chemicals like Teflon," said Cook, "They're in food, water, consumer products, carpeting, clothing, everywhere. We wanted to spray something on that repelled water or oil. For that we are paying a deep price."
The EPA warns there could be health risks including cancer, birth defects, elevated cholesterol, and other health problems.
"The companies still don't have to tell if they're using them or dumping it," said Cook.
Rep. Speier, a Democrat representing California Congressional District 14 covering San Mateo County and the southern part of San Francisco, has been working to strengthen federal laws regulating PFAS.
"We were successful in the National Defense Authorization Act this year to get language in it to require more reporting, more research," said Speier.
Rep. Speier says on January 10th, the House took further action, passing HR 535 "The PFAS Action Act" with a bipartisan vote 247 - 159. The bill would require disclosures, monitoring, education and cleanup efforts.
HR 535 is now awaiting action in the Senate.
California lawmakers are expected to introduce a bill this year AB495 The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act to limit PFAS in cosmetics.
Speier says another source of concern is firefighting foam that has been used on military bases.
"As chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I became alarmed that we have a serious problem that hasn't been addressed properly," said Speier, "Now we're looking at military sites across the country where the fire retardant foam that's used has seeped into the water table has probably impacted our service members and their families.