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House Passes Dingell PFAS Bill

Washington, January 10, 2020

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

“Let’s be very clear, PFAS is an urgent public health and environmental threat. And the number of contamination sites nationwide is growing at an alarming rate, including our military bases,” said Dingell. “The Dingell PFAS bill is a sweeping and comprehensive legislative package which has bipartisan support to address the PFAS crisis in the United States. It is anchored by a version of my original legislation that, after working with stakeholders and my colleagues on Energy and Commerce, now focuses on PFOA and PFOS. These two chemicals are the most hazardous of the class and it is time these chemicals are properly designated as hazardous substances under the EPA’s Superfund program. Doing this will accelerate the clean-up process at military facilities and in communities all across this country. This would be a significant first step while we allow the EPA to study the remaining compounds—which needs to start now.”

“It’s a beginning, but this won’t help communities or people unless it’s passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President,” Dingell continued. “We all must work together to protect human health and our environment. Further inaction only means more people continue to be poisoned and contamination spreads further.”

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.

A summary of the PFAS Action Act is available here, and a fact sheet is available here.

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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