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State Environmental Health Advocates Urge US EPA to Support State Action on Highly Fluorinated Chemicals in Drinking Water

State Environmental Health Advocates Urge US EPA to Support State Action on Highly Fluorinated Chemicals in Drinking Water

 “PFAS Summit” Must be More than Talk

 (Washington, DC) – A national coalition of state environmental health advocates is calling on state and federal officials to take swift action to protect Americans’ health from highly fluorinated chemicals or PFASs. The coalition of Safer States delivered a letter signed by 41 organizations from 13 states to state and federal officials meeting in Washington, DC this week to discuss the emerging health crisis of PFAS-contaminated drinking water that now affects over 16 million people in 33 states.

Last week, it was reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency is preventing the release of a government study by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that found the USEPA’s recommended health advisory limit of 70 part per trillion for PFAS chemicals to be up to six times too high. The EPA has for decades delayed action on these chemicals, refusing to strictly regulate these dangerous compounds. As a result state and local governments have been taking the lead in regulating and assessing the chemicals.

“EPA’s outrageous action to suppress a government study about the health hazards of PFAS shows that communities across the country can’t count on this EPA to address this public health crisis in a meaningful way,” said Liz Hitchcock, Acting Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.  “States must continue to lead by cleaning up current contamination, establishing drinking water standards, and preventing future pollution.  EPA should follow their lead and provide the resources they need to protect their residents.”

PFAS chemicals are industrial chemicals that are showing up in drinking water, people, and the environment across the country. Used in stain-resistant and waterproof coatings in consumer products and food packaging as well as in some firefighting foams, these chemicals are linked to cancer, liver toxicity, and other negative health impacts. PFASs are extremely persistent and can stay in the human body for as long as 8 years.

Specifically, state health advocates are calling for:

  • EPA to release any information about PFAS health risks, including new risk levels developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
  • EPA to assist states inidentifying and cleaning up PFASs in water and soil. States need the EPA to quickly develop analytical methods for all PFAS in water and soil so that states can better understand the scope of the problem and find solutions to mitigate this crisis.
  • EPA to provide information on where and how PFASs are used in consumer products and manufacturing in the United States. States need this information to better understand the sources of the contamination manufacturing processes.
  • EPA to work with the Department of Defense to change the military specification to allow for the use of PFAS-free firefighting foams at airports, including military airports, for all purposes. To prevent further contamination of drinking water and the environment, airports, including military airports, must switch to PFAS-free freighting foams. Washington State has restricted the sale of PFAS foams for their local firefighting districts and adopted a ban on training with PFAS foams at any facility. The military specification must be changed to allow the use of these PFAS-free foams at all airports, including military airports.
  • State governments toeliminate the use of PFASs in consumer products, including in food packaging, textiles and firefighting foam. In addition to firefighting foam, Washington State also recently banned the use of PFAS in paper food packaging. Other states, including California and New York, are considering similar restrictions to prevent future contamination.

Federal inaction has come at a huge cost to state taxpayers who must pay for testing and monitoring, delivering clean water to communities with contaminated water, cleaning up contaminated sites, and covering health care costs and other economic losses.

“States are facing huge costs as they deal with these chemicals. Taxpayers can’t afford to have these chemicals continue to flow in our communities and pollute drinking water, people, and the environment. States must act now by banning the use of PFAS chemicals and putting in place other safeguards to protect their residents and prevent future contamination. We call on EPA to support these efforts,” said Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Contact:         Gretchen Lee Salter

Interim Director, Safer States


[email protected]

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