Brown, Portman Lead Bipartisan Group of Senators Demanding Administration Release Water Safety Report

Senators: Communities Must Have Access to the Facts to Ensure Levels of PFAS in Local Drinking Water are Safe

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today led a bipartisan group of 10 Senators in demanding the administration release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water. According to recent news reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to block the release of results from a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the toxic Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS are a class of toxic chemicals used in manufacturing that have been linked to a variety of cancers and serious health conditions.

According to recent media reports, the HHS study reportedly shows that exposure to these chemicals at levels lower than previously known pose a danger to human health. While this study was finalized in January 2018, EPA officials purportedly have been working to block the release of this report.

Meanwhile, many local communities, including Dayton, Ohio, are working to address PFAS chemicals that have leaked into local water systems. The Senators are demanding the agencies release the report so those communities have access to all the best science as they work to make sure their local water is safe.   

“The EPA and other regulatory agencies must rely on the most up-to-date, factually-accurate information based on rigorous science to guide policy decisions and regulations designed to protect the health and well-being of our constituents. Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins,” the Senators wrote in their letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The bipartisan group of Senators who sent this letter to the EPA and HHS demanding they release the report include: Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

A copy of their letter can be found HERE and below:

The Honorable Scott Pruitt

Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460

 

The Honorable Alex Azar

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Administrator Pruitt and Secretary Azar:

We write to express our deep concern with recent news reports that individuals within the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are blocking the release of results from a study completed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) regarding Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). The results of this study are critical to protecting the health and well-being of communities across the country, and it is imperative that the results of this study be released immediately.

As you are aware, PFAS are a class of toxic chemicals used in manufacturing that have been linked to a variety of cancers and serious health conditions. According to recent media reports, ATSDR has been working on a report on the health effects of PFAS, which reportedly shows that exposure to these chemicals at levels lower than previously known pose a danger to human health – in particular the health of more vulnerable populations  like pregnant women and the immunocompromised. We understand that this report was finalized in January 2018, but Politico has reported that there are “internal emails showing EPA officials working to block the report.” This is unacceptable.

The EPA and other regulatory agencies must rely on the most up-to-date, factually-accurate information based on rigorous science to guide policy decisions and regulations designed to protect the health and well-being of our constituents. Given the wide use of PFAS and presence of these chemicals in communities across the U.S., it is critical that this report be released without delay and that EPA act immediately to update its guidelines to ensure Americans are informed of and protected from the danger of exposure to these toxins. We are especially concerned since PFAS have been discovered in community water systems as well as on multiple Department of Defense installations.  To this point, many local officials, as well as the Department of Defense have been working off the voluntary EPA guidelines issued in 2016; however, we need to ensure that all parties are working off the most up-to-date information to maintain a safe water supply.

Several of our colleagues have written to you since the existence of the report became known requesting information and seeking to review the report matter. We write to echo their concerns, and to urge you to publish the findings of this study and update EPA policies related to PFAS in a way that will adequately protect the health and well-being of our constituents without delay.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

United States Senator Sherrod Brown

United States Senator Rob Portman

United States Senator Jack Reed

United States Senator Shelley Moore Capito

United States Senator Tammy Baldwin

United States Senator Chris Van Hollen

United States Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator Michael F. Bennet

United States Senator Edward J. Markey

United States Senator Bill Nelson

United States Senator Joe Manchin III

United States Senator Robert Menendez

cc:  The Honorable Mick Mulvaney, Director, OMB

       The Honorable James Mattis, Secretary, Department of Defense