Dingell Stands up for Clean Water, Presses for More Action to Combat PFAS
Today during a Congressional hearing, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) called on EPA to set one national standard on contaminants in drinking water and received commitments from the EPA to hold public meetings on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Michigan.
Dingell urged the EPA to set a national maximum contaminant level (MCL) for all PFAS compounds so there is one national standard for all water systems to ensure safe drinking water. Currently, states may issue public health warnings when contaminants levels reach 70 ppt (parts per trillion) but there are no enforcement mechanisms. Dingell supports setting a maximum contaminant level for PFAS to reflect the severe health effects from even low levels of exposure.
Dingell questioned why EPA had originally planned a public meeting in Michigan, but later pulled it from the schedule. During the hearing, Dingell, supported by her colleagues Michigan Republicans Fred Upton and Tim Walberg, received a commitment from the EPA to hold a public meeting on PFAS in Michigan. She questioned the State of Michigan on their response to the recent crisis in the state, and called on the state to improve and speed up testing procedures and communication practices for alerting the public of elevated levels. The Congresswoman also pledged to help the state get the resources they need to do the job properly.
There are 35 sites across Michigan with confirmed PFAS contamination. Recently a “Do Not Eat” fish advisory was issued for the Huron River due to elevated PFAS levels. The town of Parchment, MI also recently had a crisis with PFAS in their water supply, and there are major contaminations at several military installations in Michigan as well. Perfluorinated chemicals are linked to certain cancers and serious health problems.
“Clean water is a basic human right that every man, woman, and child deserves across every generation,” said Dingell. “There is an old saying that nothing lasts forever. Unfortunately, perfluorinated chemicals which were designed to stand the test of time and might last forever unless addressed. These chemicals can be found all around us and in recent years we have seen more and more cases of confirmed contamination sites in our environment and drinking water sources—especially in Michigan.”
“As we continue to test for PFAS and as those tests improve, I fear this trend will continue,” Dingell continued. “Perfluorinated chemicals are man-made and will require a man-made solution from all of us working together. Every federal agency, every state and local official, and Congress needs to take this issue seriously and act. The most important action we can take now is to establish a national protective standard for PFAS, while exploring all other options.”
Dingell pressed Carol Isaacs, the director of Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team, regarding the PFAS contamination in the Huron River watershed and delays, of more than a year, in testing contaminated fish.
“PFAS sites are growing across the state and we need every level government to take this contamination problem seriously. While the State of Michigan has been responding to PFAS more than most states, we can and need to do better. It is my understanding that the fish that resulted in a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory was caught in May 2017, put in a freezer, and was not tested until very recently. It was 16-months later when the ‘do not eat’ fish advisory was put out. Why did that happen? Do you have the resources you need? How do we make sure we are responding in a timely way?” asked Dingell. “Also it’s disturbing that Michigan is not testing for GenX and potentially all harmful chemicals, including GenX. We cannot let another water crisis cripple Michigan or the country.”
Additionally, Dingell urged officials from the EPA to establish a national protective drinking water standard for all perflourinated compounds. Dingell is the cosponsor of legislation to speed up EPA regulations to ensure information is getting to the public in a timely manner.