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MLive: Upton, Kildee support bill to regulate PFAS in drinking water

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Washington, July 31, 2018 | comments
Upton, Kildee support bill to regulate PFAS in drinking water
July 31, 2018

As Michigan communities deal with the aftermath of potentially dangerous chemicals found in their drinking water, Congressman Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, and Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, are supporting a bill to require nationwide regulations for PFAS in drinking water. 

The bill would require the EPA to publish a maximum contaminant level goal and promulgate drinking water regulations for PFAS, the lawmakers said in a joint statement. 

"PFAS chemical contamination is impacting drinking water in communities throughout Michigan. Local, state, and federal leaders must work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure the basic necessity of safe drinking water," the federal lawmakers said in a joint statement released Tuesday, July 31. 

"We will continue to hold the EPA accountable so that folks in Michigan are getting help and the answers they deserve. Michigan is leading the nation by testing every municipal water source. The EPA must get on board to help Michigan and all states deal with this issue," the statement reads. 

"In order to protect families across the country, we must set a national drinking water standard for PFAS. The EPA has failed to act with the proper urgency to set a standard and therefore we support bipartisan legislative action that would require them to do so. 

"Every Michigan family deserves safe and clean drinking water. No exceptions."

Kildee has co-sponsored the legislation that Upton plans to co-sponsor once the U.S. House returns to legislative session, according to the statement. 

The bill would amend Section 1412(b)(2) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300g-1(b)(2)), adding to it:

"(D) PERFLUORINATED COMPOUNDS.--Notwithstanding any other deadline established in this subsection, not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this subparagraph, the Administrator shall publish a maximum contaminant level goal and promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for perfluorinated compounds (including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid)."

Earlier this month, Upton and Kildee led a bipartisan letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler pushing the agency to strengthen drinking water safeguards for PFAS.

The bipartisan call from lawmakers comes after the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report showing PFAS chemicals, increasingly being found in drinking water across the nation, are more dangerous to humans than previously acknowledged by the EPA, according to an earlier statement from Upton. 

The letter asked the EPA to update the safe level of exposure for two types of PFAS, PFOS and PFOA, and asks the EPA to create a recommended level for two other types of PFAS, PFHxS and PFNA.

Currently, the public health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA is 70 parts per trillion, while there is no public health advisory level for PFHxS and PFNA, Upton said. 

Since that time, city government officials in both Portage and Kalamazooannounced that levels of PFAS below the federal health advisory level, were found in their municipal water.

The per- and polyfluorinated compounds, known collectively as PFAS, are an emerging public health threat contaminating water supplies across the Michigan. More than 20 communities across the state have identified contamination sites. That list is expected to grow.

The chemicals are known to increase risk of cancer, kidney disease, thyroid conditions and auto-immune disorders. Experts agree pregnant women, women considering becoming pregnant and young children are the most vulnerable. The chemicals also can increase cholesterol and interfere with the body's natural hormones.

Michigan's next water crisis is PFAS - and you may already be affected

Kildee and Upton have previously led a bipartisan letter urging full funding for a nationwide Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study on the health impacts of PFAS in drinking water in the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill. The final bill contained $10 million for the study with more than $60 million appropriated for research and remediation. 

Kildee and Upton have also previously spearheaded bipartisan legislation, in response to the Flint Water Crisis, which strengthened requirements to have the EPA step in to notify the public when drinking water was discovered to not be safe. That legislation was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

"In light of the potential serious health issues that could result from exposure to PFOS and PFOA...we urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the final toxicological profile and, as appropriate, act immediately to adjust the health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA," the letter reads.

In Parchment, individual tests results of groundwater wells that send drinking water to Parchment and parts of Cooper Township showed one well with levels of PFAS 26 times higher than a federal health advisory. The estimated 3,100 people using Parchment's municipal water supply were told late Thursday, July 26, to immediately stop drinking the water.

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