Statement: Congress should pass legislation to protect drinking water from PFAS contamination

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, PIRG

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire introduced the Clean Water Standards for PFAS 2.0 Act into the Senate and the House this week. The bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish limits on how much PFAS chemicals producers can dump into waterways and to set water quality criteria to protect human health. There are currently no federal regulations that address industrial releases of PFAS into America’s waterways. Already, millions of Americans’ drinking water is contaminated with PFAS. 

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of over 12,000 chemicals that don’t break down and can build up in the environment and our bodies, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” Research links PFAS exposure in humans to cancer, immune system deficiencies, high cholesterol, low fertility, and even developmental issues in children and infants. Moreover, the health impacts of PFAS are magnified because the chemicals accumulate in air, soil, water and our own bodies and persist in the environment indefinitely. 

To address PFAS contamination, Environment America and U.S. PIRG have supported legislation enacted in late 2019 that ordered the Defense Department to phase out the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams by October, 2024.

In response, experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG released the following statements:

Sean Hoffmann, Environment America Federal Legislative advocate, said: 

“The dangers of PFAS have been public knowledge since at least the 1990s, yet federal regulators still allow big polluters to dump these toxic chemicals into our waterways. The EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap released last year is encouraging, but the EPA needs a boost from Congress to truly tackle the PFAS problem with the urgency and thoroughness that it demands. We call on Congress to swiftly pass the Clean Water Standards for PFAS 2.0 Act so we can finally start to rein in toxic PFAS.”

Emily Rogers, U.S. PIRG Zero Out Toxics advocate, said:

Virtually all Americans already have PFAS in their blood, and the problem is getting worse as we delay action. The Clean Water Standards for PFAS 2.0 Act would help protect Americans from further exposure to toxic PFAS by starting to turn off the tap on these harmful chemicals. We applaud Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. Pappas for taking the lead on this issue and for speaking out for PFAS-endangered communities all around America. We look forward to working to help get this important bill to President Biden’s desk so we can begin to stop the pervasive threat posed by these ‘forever chemicals’.”