WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), members of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today introduced the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish an enforceable standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. PFAS are a group of thousands of manufactured chemicals that can seep into drinking water supplies and have contaminated communities in West Virginia, New York, and other states across the country.
“In recent years, a growing body of science has shown the harmful effects certain PFAS pollutants can have on individuals with prolonged exposure to them, and it’s important that we do what we can to address that risk—especially in the drinking water our communities rely on,” Senator Capito said. “By requiring EPA to set a national drinking water standard for PFAS, we can ensure West Virginians and others can have faith in their access to safe, clean drinking water and help protect the health and wellbeing of Americans across the country.”
“It is the EPA’s job to protect Americans from highly toxic chemicals like PFAS, but they have failed to do what is necessary to help ensure our families in New York and across the country are no longer exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS in their drinking water,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This is a widespread crisis that is putting the health of millions of Americans at risk, and I’m proud to partner with Senator Capito on this bipartisan legislation to require the EPA to finally establish a clear national drinking water standard for PFAS and protect public health. Clean water is an essential right that all Americans deserve, and I urge my colleagues to join with me to quickly pass this legislation.”
PFAS have been linked to cancers and other serious health and developmental effects. A new report shows potentially 19 million Americans are using public water systems exposed to PFAS contamination. However, no regulatory standards currently exist to protect from this health hazard.
The Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019 would require EPA to set a Maximum Contaminant Level and Primary National Drinking Water Regulation for PFAS within two years of the bill becoming law. Maximum Contaminant Levels are health-based standards the EPA sets for drinking water quality to determine the legal limit of a contaminant that is permitted in public water systems. This bill would group all PFAS chemicals under one Maximum Contaminant Level.
Earlier this year, Senator Capito joined with EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper to introduce bipartisan legislation that would mandate the EPA within one year of enactment declare PFAS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law and also enable a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation. As part of her ongoing efforts to address and prevent PFAS contamination, she has also worked to secure funding to remediate contamination in Berkeley County, West Virginia.
The full text of the legislation is available here.
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