Statement: PFAS hearing elevates need for policy reform

For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on the risks of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Witnesses will include senior staff from the Department of Defense (DoD), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America, issued the following statement:

“It’s been six months since Congress’s first hearing on PFAS, and we still have a long way to go. On one hand, DoD needs to clean up their mess at military bases and prevent future contamination. And on the other, EPA needs to protect our health by limiting the use of PFAS, and by setting a strong drinking water standard of one part per trillion for the whole class of chemicals.

“Toxic PFAS contamination, from Colorado to Michigan to North Carolina, grows more serious by the day. These dangerous substances are, against all reason, still widespread in both production and use. We see them not only in the military’s firefighting foams, but everywhere from pizza boxes to water-repellent boots. They dissolve easily in water, and stay in the environment indefinitely. It’s ridiculous that, despite the known health effects of PFAS, we’re moving so slowly to clean them up.

“Today’s hearing is an opportunity to get solid commitments from DoD and EPA. In response to mounting pressure last month, EPA committed to begin the process for establishing a drinking water standard for two of the chemicals. But the agency must go further: the standard they set should be health-protective, it should apply to all PFAS, and it should happen fast. Likewise, DoD must commit to a timeline for transitioning to safer alternatives at military bases as soon as is feasible.”