WASHINGTON – EWG applauds the bipartisan group of Senate negotiators for their $550 billion infrastructure deal unveiled today that includes billions of dollars to clean up the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
“No one should have to worry about the safety of their water,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “The funding proposed in the bipartisan infrastructure bill will provide an important down payment on what’s need to filter PFAS out of our drinking water.”
The bill includes $55 billion for drinking water, which “represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including dedicated funding to replace lead service lines and the dangerous chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl),” according to a summary of the agreement.
PFAS have been detected in nearly 2,800 communities, including 2,411 drinking water systems and 328 military sites, an EWG analysis found.
EWG estimates more than 200 million Americans are likely drinking PFAS in their tap water. But most drinking water utilities are not required to test for the presence of PFAS or remove them from water they serve. The Senate bill will provide funding needed to start tackling this problem.
“If enacted, the funding provided by the historic bipartisan infrastructure deal will provide the resources water utilities need to begin to address the PFAS contamination crisis,” Faber said.
PFAS are a large family of fluorinated chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage and other serious health problems.
Faber thanked Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for leading efforts to secure the funding for PFAS cleanup in the infrastructure bill. “Only PFAS is more persistent than Sen. Shaheen,” Faber said. “Millions of Americans have her to thank for getting PFAS out of their water.”
Last week, the House of Representatives approved the bipartisan PFAS Action Act, which, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would set deadlines for action by the Environmental Protection Agency, including a two-year deadline to develop a national drinking water standard for select PFAS.
The PFAS Action Act would also set a deadline for the EPA to address industrial PFAS releases. EWG earlier this year reported that almost 30,000 companies are likely discharging PFAS into the air and water.
“We need to clean up legacy PFAS pollution,” Faber added, “but we also need to turn off the tap of ongoing PFAS pollution from industry.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, 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.