Crow Helps Pass Legislation to Protect Colorado Families from Harmful PFAS Chemicals
WASHINGTON - Representative Jason Crow (CO-06) voted today to pass the PFAS Action Act of 2021, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to address the public health threat from PFAS chemicals.
Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer, immune system effects, infertility, impaired child development, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. Because of their strong atomic bonds, these are known as “forever chemicals” that are extremely persistent in the environment.
“Our community, which is home to Buckley Space Force Base, knows the hazardousness of PFAS all too well,” said Rep. Jason Crow. “These toxic forever chemicals have been discovered in groundwater across the Denver Metro Region and other parts of Colorado, with estimates that more than 100,000 Coloradans have relied on public water systems where elevated PFAS levels have been detected. The PFAS Action Act would treat this problem with the seriousness it deserves by cleaning up our communities, preventing future pollution and holding polluters accountable.”
Speaking at a press conference earlier this morning in support of the legislation, Crow said, “The water that we do have [in the West] we treasure, we protect, and we make sure that it is clean. What we value more than just water is the health of our children. I cannot sit here as a member of Congress and the father of two young children and turn a blind eye to a critical health issue that is getting worse and worse for our community.”
A new study published last week shows that, based on EPA data, an estimated 30,000 industrial sites are known or suspected of using toxic PFAS: twelve times what had been previously estimated. American servicemembers and their families are also at particular risk of exposure, as more than 400 U.S. military sites are known to have PFAS contamination.
The PFAS Action Act of 2021 would require EPA to use tools under several environmental statutes to:
- Stem the flow of PFAS contamination into the environment by requiring cleanup of sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
- Identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
- Inform communities of PFAS risks by requiring the EPA Administrator to develop a risk-communication strategy and establish a website with information on testing of household well water; and
- Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations like pregnant women, infants, and children, and holding polluters accountable. The legislation also provides grants to impacted water systems, creates a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, provides guidance for first responders to limit their exposures, and requires effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for PFAS introduction or discharge.
The PFAS Action Act will generate and rely on science to address PFAS risks. To keep science at the forefront of decision-making, the bill directs EPA to:
- Address the two most studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, right away while requiring the development of needed health and safety studies on all other PFAS;
- Identify relevant subclasses of PFAS and tailor testing for those classes, recognizing that different types of PFAS may pose different risks and require different risk management approaches; and
- Meet deadlines for further regulatory decisions based on when that scientific data should be available, without predetermining what those decisions should be.