Bipartisan Senate Bill Would Set Legal Limit for PFAS Chemicals in Drinking Water

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of senators, led by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Capito (R-W.V.), introduced legislation today to require the Environmental Protection Agency to set a health-protective legal limit for toxic fluorinated chemicals, or PFAS, in drinking water.

The bill would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to set a legal limit for all PFAS chemicals within two years. 

“This bipartisan, commonsense proposal should send a signal to the Trump administration that this out-of-control PFAS contamination crisis needs serious leadership from Washington,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “It’s a sad fact that Wheeler must be forced to do his job and clean up PFAS contamination in Americans’ drinking water, but this is a national crisis requiring national action.”

Last week, EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute at Northeastern University released an updated map showing that at least 610 sites in 43 states are known to be contaminated with PFAS, including drinking water systems serving an estimated 19 million people.

There are currently no federally enforceable standards for PFAS chemicals in drinking water. In February, Wheeler announced a much-hyped “action plan” that failed to set a clear timeline for setting a drinking water standard for all PFAS chemicals.

Similar legislation, H.R. 2377, by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Dan Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), was recently introduced in the House.

EWG has called on the Trump administration and Congress to take a series of steps to protect the public from further exposure to PFAS chemicals, including:

  • Identify PFAS pollution sources.
  • Identify scope of PFAS contamination.
  • End new PFAS releases.
  • Set PFAS clean-up standards.

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The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.