PFAS Action Act clears House energy committee

WASHINGTON – Today, a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee advanced the PFAS Action Act, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly reduce and remediate the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The PFAS Action Act of 2021, introduced by Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, would create a national drinking water standard for select PFAS chemicals, designate PFAS as hazardous substances, limit industrial discharges and provide $200 million annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment facilities.

“We need deadlines to ensure that the EPA will take the necessary steps to reduce PFAS releases into our air, land and water, to filter PFAS out of tap water and to clean up legacy PFAS pollution, especially near Department of Defense facilities,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for government affairs. “We applaud Reps. Dingell and Upton for continuing to make PFAS pollution a priority.”

PFAS are manufactured chemicals that have so far been found in the drinking water of more than 2,000 communities. They are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weakened immune systems.

To protect our air, land and water from harmful PFAS contamination, the PFAS Action Act would:

  • Require the EPA to establish within two years a national drinking water standard for the two most notorious PFAS chemicals – PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – that protects public health, including the health of the most vulnerable populations.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
  • Require the EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provide $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
  • Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS waste and place a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
  • Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
  • Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.

More than 320 military sites across the U.S. have PFAS contamination, and more than 200 million Americans may be drinking contaminated water.

In January 2020, the House passed an earlier version of the PFAS Action Act by a vote of 247 to 159, with backing from 24 Republicans. But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked consideration of the bill.

“It’s time for the EPA to act,” Faber said. “The EPA has known PFAS were toxic since at least 1998 but has failed to protect us.”

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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.

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