Jun 17, 2019

Senate Amendment May Expand PFAS Monitoring

Proposal would require water utilities to test for PFAS chemicals

Proposal would require water utilities to test for PFAS chemicals

A bipartisan amendment proposed may add PFAS to a list of contaminants tracked by the U.S. Geological Survey’s water quality monitoring network. According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), the amendment was proposed for a Senate version of an annual defense spending bill.

The amendment was filed by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Tom Carper (Del.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.). It would require manufacturers to report air and water discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to EWG.

According to The Hill, the U.S. EPA recommends no more than 70 ppt of PFAS in drinking water. However, many states have passed their own standards that are more strict than what the EPA recommends. The EPA would not comment on pending legislation, according to The Hill.

The defense bill is called the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020. According to EWG, the bill already requires the military to phase out the use of firefighting foam by 2023 and also requires facilities to meet state cleanup standards. EWG recently released a report and map identifying 475 manufacturing facilities that could be discharging PFAS.

“The first step to addressing the PFAS contamination crisis is knowing where PFAS pollution is coming from and understanding how far it has spread,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s senior vice president for Government Affairs. “The fact that we know so little is a scandal. Much more needs to be done to address the crisis, but monitoring the scope of PFAS pollution will lay the groundwork for further progress.”

This amendment would also set a deadline for the EPA to develop drinking water cleanup standards for water utilities, and also create a task force to address threats stemming from PFAS contamination. According to EWG, “the drinking water standard would initially apply to PFOA and PFOS but could include other PFAS chemicals as EPA finalizes expected toxicity reviews.”

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