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Dingell: PFAS Contamination Will Spread Unless We Take Action Now

Washington, January 22, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Environmental Working Group released a report saying PFAS contamination of drinking water is far more prevalent than previously reported. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) – leader of major legislation to clean up PFAS contamination and establishing national drinking water standards for the toxic chemicals – said that we must take action now to address these forever chemicals.

“This report is further evidence that we must take action to prevent the spread of PFAS contamination and protect human health and the environment,” said Dingell. “These toxic, forever chemicals are everywhere including non-stick cookware, food containers, carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foam, and – most frighteningly – our drinking water. In Michigan and a few other places, we know about contamination because we are testing for it. Further inaction only means more people continue to be poisoned and contamination spreads further.

Dingell continued, “The House stepped up and passed the Dingell PFAS bill, a sweeping and comprehensive legislative package which has bipartisan support to address the PFAS crisis in the United States. 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. We all must work together to protect human health and our environment.”

Dingell’s PFAS Action Act, which passed the House with bipartisan support, 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, among many other provisions included, 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.

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