Fight for Zero Meets with Florida Governor's Office of Policy and Budget to Discuss PFAS Contamination and Health Concerns

May. 7, 2019 | FightForZero

Fight For Zero met with the Governor's office of policy and budget to discuss water quality and health concerns impacting Florida communities

Manatee County Director and 15-year advocate Cheryl Jozsa with Pinellas County Director Emerald Cromwell and Hydrogeologist David Woodhouse discussed the impact of toxins in Florida’s waters. Jozsa’s sister, Terri Jewell, died in 1999 at 38 from Leukemia. Later Jozsa discovered her sister's high school classmates were also diagnosed with cancer. She began crowdsourcing medical information and sought the help of professional experts, which included an Epidemiologist, Toxicologist, Biostatistician, and Geologist, to review data; the consensus was a resounding concern. She found toxins in the water a mile north of the campus where a machine shop business had been. After discovering the decades of environmental neglect and lack of cleanup, she began a mission to save lives.

“I know that I speak for the majority of the victims and their families from across the state, and they care that the beaches we used to love are now littered with marine life carcasses, that the once crystal blue waters are now murky and so contaminated with toxins that it’s too dangerous to swim in and that the air is dangerous to breathe. We are supposed to protect lives. It’s time for the State of Florida leadership to stop dismissing these issues, start recognizing a connection, take immediate steps to clean up the environment, and hold the culprits accountable.” Said Jozsa. Native Floridians are using their skills and talents for good by working together to protect their land and the people who live on it.

Emerald Cromwell was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and is a nurse meeting others in the community facing the same reality of a rare and unforgettable diagnosis. Cromwell learned through her care that two friends from her St. Petersburg neighborhood received treatment for the same cancer. She later lost her best friend, Shannon Jagger (inseparable since kindergarten), to the same (supposed to be rare) cancer. Cromwell is helping others and working as the Director of Pinellas County for Fight For Zero to make a difference by bringing awareness, fundraising, and advocating for healthier communities.

Fight For Zero’s Executive Director Stel Bailey, Vice President Jeff Dubitsky, and two environmental scientists with L.S. Sims expressed the need for urgent action needed to raise awareness of the potential threat of unsafe levels of PFAS and other toxic chemicals in and near military installations, and the need to remediate their toxic contamination of water. They recommended an appropriate assessment to ban all new variants of PFAS and new uses for the class of chemicals. Florida sets enforceable water standards for total PFAS, mandates reporting of PFAS releases, and remediates contamination of water supplies on or near military installations.

“We need better policies to safeguard Florida communities from the same inevitable toxic exposure. Allowing large corporations to contaminate the environment has repercussions, and it’s important to set the acceptable level of toxins in the environment as close to zero as possible.” Bailey said.

Fight For Zero’s goal is to unite communities while collaborating with state officials to address issues impacting the health and environment of citizens in Florida. The organization proposed a collaborative solution that would include a task force committee of citizens working alongside the government to build trust, education, awareness, and transparency.

Fight For Zero looks forward to further collaborating with the state offices tasked to address their concerns.

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