Sep 27, 2018

U.S. Senate Holds First-Ever PFAS Hearing

The hearing brought revelations from the U.S. EPA on potential regulations of the emerging contaminants

U.S. Senate holds emerging contaminant PFAS hearing
U.S. Senate holds emerging contaminant PFAS hearing

On Sept. 26, the U.S. Senate held a hearing on per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). Three community representatives shared personal stories about their relationship to PFAS in drinking water and eight U.S. senators took testimony. However, the U.S. EPA expressed that they currently are not planning to change drinking water advisories.

“We are not planning currently to update our drinking water and health advisories for PFOA and PFOS,” said Peter Grevatt, on behalf of the Groundwater and Drinking Water division of the EPA.

Despite the revelation, the agency is exploring the designation of PFAS as a hazardous substance, would would allow state to initiate cleanup orders and receive funds from the polluters. This potential change could take years to enact, Gravatt said.

Additionally, Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program and the National Institutes of Health, said that emerging contaminants PFAS may have damaging effects not only from ingestion but also from dermal exposure, a surprise to many who thought PFAS water was safe for swimming or bathing, as reported by MLive.

“We are seeing different states take different steps and measures,” said Andrea Amico, a resident who came from New Hampshire to testify. “It’s leaving community members across the country wondering ‘why is Vermont lowering a standard to 20 ppt for five different PFAS, when the EPA is saying 70 ppt for two different PFAS?’”