06.12.18

Capito, Manchin Join Bipartisan Effort in Asking for Release of Water Safety Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined a bipartisan group of 12 senators in asking the administration release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to recent news reports, has been blocking the release of a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the toxic Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS is a class of toxic chemicals that have been linked to a variety of serious health conditions and are regularly used in manufacturing.

“The EPA and other regulatory agencies must rely on the most up-to-date, factually-accurate information based on rigorous science to guide policy decisions and regulations designed to protect the health and well-being of our constituents,” the senators wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins.”

According to recent media reports, the HHS study reportedly shows that the level of exposure to PFAS that poses a danger to human health is lower than previously understood. The senators are asking that the agencies release the report so the many local communities suffering from PFAS contamination to their water systems have access to all the best information as they work to make sure their local water is safe.

Senators Manchin and Capito were joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

Read the full letter below or click here:

Dear Administrator Pruitt and Secretary Azar:

We write to express our deep concern with recent news reports that individuals within the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are blocking the release of results from a study completed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) regarding Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). The results of this study are critical to protecting the health and well-being of communities across the country, and it is imperative that the results of this study be released immediately.

As you are aware, PFAS are a class of toxic chemicals used in manufacturing that have been linked to a variety of cancers and serious health conditions. According to recent media reports, ATSDR has been working on a report on the health effects of PFAS, which reportedly shows that exposure to these chemicals at levels lower than previously known pose a danger to human health – in particular the health of more vulnerable populations  like pregnant women and the immunocompromised. We understand that this report was finalized in January 2018, but Politico has reported that there are “internal emails showing EPA officials working to block the report.” This is unacceptable.

The EPA and other regulatory agencies must rely on the most up-to-date, factually-accurate information based on rigorous science to guide policy decisions and regulations designed to protect the health and well-being of our constituents. Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins. We are especially concerned since PFAS have been discovered in community water systems as well as on multiple Department of Defense installations.  To this point, many local officials, as well as the Department of Defense have been working off the voluntary EPA guidelines issued in 2016; however, we need to ensure that all parties are working off the most up-to-date information to maintain a safe water supply.

Several of our colleagues have written to you since the existence of the report became known requesting information and seeking to review the report matter. We write to echo their concerns, and to urge you to publish the findings of this study and update EPA policies related to PFAS in a way that will adequately protect the health and well-being of our constituents without delay.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.
 

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