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Dingell: Action Urgently Needed to Address Threat of PFAS

Washington, May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, during a Congressional hearing on contamination and exposure to hazardous substances, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) pressed for urgent action to address toxic perfluorinated compounds (PFAS). Dingell leads numerous bipartisan bills to address the widespread public health and environmental threat caused by PFAS chemicals.

Video of Dingell at Wednesday’s hearing is available here.

“PFAS continues to threaten public health and the environment. Today’s hearing is an important step for us in better understanding how to get rid these hazardous substances in the environment and drinking water, and take steps to reverse the damage already caused,” said Dingell. “It is deeply concerning that the EPA has not acted fast enough—and it is unclear what, if anything, EPA will ultimately do. Immediate, comprehensive action is need by the federal government.”

Ann Arbor Water Utility Manager Brian Steglitz testified on contamination at the city’s water treatment plant has experienced and efforts to respond. Video of Steglitz’ testimony is available here.

“While we have come up with a solution to ensure the city’s drinking water is safe and public health is protected, removing these chemicals at the end of the pipe is not the most cost effective source. The best way to address these contaminants is at their source,” said Steglitz. “We need stronger control of the chemicals that can enter circulation in the United States, source water protection to ensure contaminants do not enter our watersheds, financials support for research to understand the public health risk of exposure to PFAS and for development of new treatment technologies, financial support for utilities needing to invest in those remedial technologies, and finally regulatory oversight and consistent messaging that have been vetted by the best science. With these tools, utilities will be best positioned to address PFAS contamination and succeed in their common missions to protect public health.”

Recent reporting has shown there is an expanding PFAS contamination crisis in Michigan and across the country. PFAS chemicals have been linked to liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, and several forms of cancer. These chemicals have continued to show up in drinking water and communities, especially near military facilities, commercial airports, and manufacturing sites. With over 192 sites contaminated, Michigan has the most contaminated sites in the United States.

Dingell leads efforts in Congress to combat and address PFAS contamination. She led the introduction of The PFAS Action Act which would simply require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to list all PFAS chemicals, including PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals, as hazardous substances under the Superfund clean-up program within one year.

Dingell is an original cosponsor on these pieces of PFAS legislation:

  • The PFAS Accountability Act of 2019, would urge federal agencies to cooperate with States as PFAS contamination is detected in communities near federal installations such as active military installations, former military installations, or National Guard facilities. The bill will facilitate testing, monitoring, removal, and remediation when these chemicals are detected in the water and soil. Federal agencies would be required to come up with a plan of action with affected States within one year of a request from the state.
  • The PFAS Detection Act of 2019, would provide the U.S. Geological Survey with $45 million to develop new advanced technologies to detect PFAS and then to conduct nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment.
  • The Toxic PFAS Control Act, would regulate PFAS under TSCA; it is based on how we handled PCBs back in the 70s—which took explicit Congressional action to ban PCBs; and it begins a phaseout of all PFAS, and it requires EPA to regulate disposal of PFAS.
  • The PFAS Waste Incineration Ban Act of 2019, requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prohibit the incineration of firefighting foam that contains PFAS. Additionally, the bill would require EPA to identify other wastes that contains PFAs and to also prohibit their incineration.
  • The Prevent Release of Toxic Emissions, Contamination and Transfer (PROTECT) Act of 2019, would help the EPA in this mission by adding PFAS chemicals to the list of hazardous air pollutants under Section 112b under the Clean Air Act.

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