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House to Vote on Dingell PFAS Bill This Week

Washington, January 8, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – This week the House of Representatives will vote on bipartisan legislation led by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) that comprehensively addresses PFAS contamination in Michigan and across the country.

“PFAS is a clear threat to human health and our environment. Experts believe 99 percent of Americans have some level of PFAS in their blood—and most don’t even know. These harmful, forever chemical persist everywhere and are linked to cancer, liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, and decreased fertility. Exposures to contaminated water, air, and soil kill more people than smoking, hunger, natural disasters, war, AIDs or malaria. My PFAS Action Act was a promise to my constituents that Congress would move comprehensively to address the PFAS contamination crisis. This week the House will vote on my legislation to accelerate PFAS cleanup by designating two of the most notorious chemicals—PFOA and PFOS—as the hazardous chemicals we know they are, as well as set one national standard  for drinking water for these two PFAS chemicals with strong enforcement so we can stop the spread of PFAS contamination and begin clean up. These chemicals are too hazardous for further inaction,” said Dingell.

She continued, “Michigan has been hit hard. It is ground zero for identified PFAS contamination sites nationwide. But this is only because Michigan is testing for it. PFAS has now been detected in the water of more than 1,400 communities nationwide, including near 300 military installations.

 

“Here is the reality. EPA has completely abandoned its responsibility to act. We are not cleaning up contamination. We don’t even have a drinking water standard. All EPA has given is a guideline and false promise to act. Since I have been in Congress, every time EPA testifies they promise and nothing happens and that is why Congress must take action. Contamination has greatly impacted not only the people of Michigan, but our entire country as well including many military families living on or near bases where PFAS contamination is common.”

According to the Environmental Working Group, 297 military sites across the United States have PFAS contamination and as many as 110 million Americans are drinking PFAS contaminated water. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team has so far identified 74 site across the state with PFAS contamination.

Dingell’s PFAS Action Act, passed with bipartisan support by the Energy and Commerce Committee in November, lists select PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – as hazardous substances within one year under the Superfund program to direct federal resources to clean up contaminated sites and limit their spread. It would also require EPA to make a determination on all remaining PFAS chemicals within five years.

Dingell’s bill also sets a national maximum contaminant level (MCL) for the same two PFAS compounds so there is one national standard for all water systems on the two harmful chemicals we have the most data on to ensure safe drinking water. Currently, states may issue public health warnings when contaminant levels reach 70 ppt (parts per trillion), as set by the EPA, but there are no enforcement mechanisms. Setting a maximum contaminant level for PFOA and PFOS is an important first step but will need to continue to study the harms of all PFAS chemicals since severe health effects that have been linked to even low levels of exposure.

Many other bills comprise H.R. 535, including HR 2377, the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019; HR 2533, the Providing Financial Assistance for Safe Drinking Water Act; HR 2566, a bill to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to revise the Safer Choice Standard to provide for a Safer Choice label for pots, pans, and cooking utensils that do not contain PFAS; HR 2591, the PFAS Waste Incineration Ban Act; HR 2596, the Protecting Communities from New PFAS Act; HR 2605, the Prevent Release of Toxics Emissions, Contamination, and Transfer Act of 2019, HR 2608, the PFAS Testing Act of 2019; and HR 2638, a bill to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to issue guidance on minimizing the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

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