WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he calls for Senate action on House-passed legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to take action to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or ‘forever chemicals,’ in Ohio drinking water. Brown’s call follows reports last week of PFAS chemicals found in Ohioans’ drinking water.
“Ohio parents should not have to worry about their children’s health every time they turn on the faucet,” said Brown. “We need to help communities clean up the water supply, and we need the corporations who contaminated it accountable.”
Scientific studies have linked PFAS chemicals to certain medial conditions, including cancer, and low birth weights and have found PFAS chemicals potentially reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. PFAS chemicals don’t break down once they’re released into the environment and build up in humans’ blood and organs over time.
Earlier this month, the House passed legislation, the PFAS Action Act, which would concerns about PFAS chemicals by regulating PFAS chemicals and designate certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. This designation would require the remediation of PFAS chemicals when they are released into the environment.
The bill would also require comprehensive toxicity tests on all PFAS chemicals and require EPA to establish a safety standard for levels of PFAS chemicals in drinking water and establish a grant program to help community water systems with the costs associated with treating water contaminated by PFAS. Further, the legislation would require the EPA to issues guidance on minimizing the use of equipment containing PFAS, without jeopardizing firefighting efforts.
Brown was joined on today’s call by Dr. Susan Pinney from the University of Cincinnati, who has briefed members of Congress and their staff on the harmful consequences of drinking water contaminated by PFAS chemicals.
“There is no doubt that PFAS exposure results in health effects. We need additional studies to better define the level of PFAS exposure at which those health effects occur,” said Dr. Pinney.
In March 2019, Brown joined legislation to declare PFAS as hazardous substances under the EPA Superfund law. The designation would allow federal funds to be used to clean up groundwater contamination due to PFAS spills and mandate responsible parties report spills of PFAS and be held liable for cleanup.
In December, Brown secured provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act – which was signed into law – that would include tougher standards to crack down on PFAS contamination and require the DOD to be more transparent with communities affected by the contamination.
Last year, Brown also blasted EPA officials for releasing a PFAS Action Plan that fails to include an enforceable drinking water standard for PFOS/PFOA chemicals. Brown also joined a bipartisan letter calling on EPA to set federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS.