Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: PFAs
October 4, 2021 7:13 PM - Season 8, Episode 25 - Subscribe

This week... Covid + Brexit causes widespread gas shortages in the UK. Congress holds a hearing on the impact of social media on teenagers' mental health, causing confusion for Senator Richard Blumenthal on what a "finsta" is. Democrats try to pass the ambitious Build Back Better Act, and predictably Republicans are using every means to block it, aided by the villains of the hour, Senators Manchin and Sinema. And Now: Newscasters Take Issue With The Term "Leaf Peeping." Main story (YouTube, 20 minutes): PFAs, a class of chemicals that cause a variety of health issues and take thousands of years to break down, and has now bioaccumulated in nearly every human being on Earth, including 99.7% of US citizens. At the end, Danny DeVito appears in a bit "promoting" PFAs. Check the level of PFA contamination in the water in your area at ewg.org/pfasmap.

Among the companies that sell or use PFAs in products or product packaging identified in the show are lululemon, 3M, Dupont, The North Face, Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and Subway.

F.37 "Ozymandias," OZY
posted by JHarris (6 comments total)
 
omg that was amazing.
posted by suelac at 10:05 PM on October 4


It would have been nice to note the underlying issue of companies being allowed to dump shit into the environment in general unless there is overwhelming evidence of a particular substance being acutely toxic, but I understand why that isn't the way LWT operates.
posted by wierdo at 6:39 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


It would have been nice to note the underlying issue of companies being allowed to dump shit into the environment in general unless there is overwhelming evidence of a particular substance being acutely toxic, but I understand why that isn't the way LWT operates.

Huh? That's something the show has repeatedly addressed, in this episode as well as in the past. Or maybe I misunderstand what you meant.
posted by M. at 12:00 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


The segment talked about PFAS exposure from factory emissions, but didn't note that the issue isn't limited to PFAS. Companies dump all kinds of toxic shit if they are allowed to get away with it.
posted by wierdo at 12:09 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I thought that was referred to in the segment, in that Oliver talked briefly about how little enforcement power the EPA has - can't regulate a chemical unless they are provided with proof that it's toxic, etc. But they could probably do a whole season just on the various ways the EPA is hamstrung and never run out of material.

My peeve this episode is that I wish he wouldn't refer to Sinema and Manchin as "moderates" - they're clearly the conservative wing of the Democratic party, and that way the media positions them as moderates because the "both sides" narrative demands it seems like the kind of thing I'd expect this show to push back on.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:37 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of an extremely interesting Twitter thread I saw a few weeks ago, that mentioned that PFAS exposure correlates super strongly to population obesity, and that this tracks pretty much directly with things like "environmental contaminants build in concentration as you go downstream in the watershed" (which feels like a mirror shattering in reverse as all the pieces fall into place, as you consider things like why Colorado, home to "the mile-high city," has the lowest obesity rates). Super strongly recommend reading this whole thing!
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:01 PM on October 5 [5 favorites]


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