Legislation seeks to address exposure of cancer-causing chemicals known as PFAS: harmful pollutant that contaminated drinking water in Hoosick Falls, NY
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle voted to protect public health and the safety of our drinking water by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recognize and address the serious health risks posed by harmful Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.
“No American should have to be concerned about whether their drinking water is safe and free from cancer-causing chemicals,” said Rep. Morelle. “But for too long, the EPA has overlooked the significant health threat posed by PFAS, which has contaminated water sources and created health crises in communities across the country, including here in New York State. I’m proud that today, we took action to limit exposure to PFAS and establish much-needed standards to keep these toxic chemicals out of our drinking water.”
PFAS are a class of man-made chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and are known to bioaccumulate in humans and wildlife, which is why they are known as “forever chemicals.” PFAS have long been linked with severe and adverse health effects including cancer, immune system effects, infertility, impaired child development, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. PFAS contamination led to a water crisis in Hoosick Falls, NY in recent years and has been linked to alarmingly high cancer rates in the area.
The PFAS Action Act of 2019 would require the EPA to use tools under several environmental statutes to:
- Stem the flow of PFAS contamination into the environment by requiring cleanup of sites contaminated with PFAS, setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
- Identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
- Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations like pregnant women, infants, and children, and holding polluters accountable.
The legislation also provides grants to impacted water systems, creates a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, and provides guidance for first responders to limit their exposures.