Bill Targeting PFAS “Forever Chemicals” Contamination Introduced in the House

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WASHINGTON – PFAS chemicals, a class of thousands of widely-used, highly toxic “forever chemicals” are on the hot seat in legislation that would begin to regulate uses to protect public health and safety. Introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), the PFAS Action Act begins to address industrial scale contamination of communities nationwide by adding several of the most notorious PFAS chemicals under Superfund law and helping reduce pollution in drinking water systems, surface water, groundwater and soil with increased regulation.

The following are reactions by community groups fighting local PFAS contamination, and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):

“I live near one of the most PFAS polluted rivers in the nation–the Cape Fear River. As one of 300,000 people whose drinking water source is chronically polluted with hundreds of unregulated PFAS, I urge Congress to take bold action and address these toxic forever chemicals. The EPA must stop approving new uses for PFAS, phase out current usage, force strong health-protective standards to protect our air, soil, water and food supply, as well as, require a full cleanup from all responsible parties,” said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, based in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“We have to treat the PFAS crisis like a five-alarm ‘house on fire.’ Toxic PFAS forever chemicals taint our water, soak our environment, and contaminate our bodies. The PFAS Action Act is a good first step towards finally addressing the thousands of toxic forever chemicals. We need fast action on the whole toxic family of PFAS chemicals to eliminate them from our environment and bodies,” said Erik D. Olson, senior strategic director of health for NRDC.

“The federal government must get serious about cleaning up PFAS contamination – even when the Department of Defense is the polluter. Without stronger laws, we are looking at decades more of delays and denials that harm human health, the environment and communities like mine on beautiful Lake Huron,” said Anthony Spaniola, an attorney and clean water advocate from Michigan.

NRDC notes that while the PFAS Action Act takes many important steps, additional actions to protect the public from the entire class of more than 9,000 PFAS chemicals are also urgently needed. For example, Congress should move quickly to require all PFAS manufacturers to disclose full information about the chemicals (including methods for identifying their presence in the environment), ban all but the most critically essential uses, and halt the production, use and disposal of fire-fighting foam containing PFAS, and require cleanup and strict regulation of the full family of PFAS.

Background:

For decades, industry has created thousands of different PFAS chemicals, many of which are found in the bodies of virtually every person in America. PFAS can be found in carpeting, food packaging, cookware, clothing, cosmetics, and even firefighting foam. PFAS chemicals do not break down easily, can spread quickly through the environment and are associated with a long list of harmful health effects at exceedingly low levels (for example, in the low parts per trillion in water), including cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.

Additional Resources:

Congress Moves Further on PFAS Protections (blog, Jan 2020)

Protect People from Toxic PFAS Chemicals (NRDC website)

Scientists Recommend Regulating PFAS Chemicals as a Class (NRDC press release, June 2020)

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​



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