As PFAS has dominated several congressional hearings this month, 21 attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass legislation helping states in fighting PFAS, known as toxic “forever” chemicals.
Michigan has the most identified sites of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals, found in everyday items like nonstick cookware, have contaminated drinking water and groundwater in places like Oscoda.
“Michigan has already taken a proactive approach to regulate PFAS contaminants in groundwater by implementing regulations on this contaminant without waiting for the federal government,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “But like all states, our efforts to address PFAS contamination will be aided by uniform, protective national standards and we’re counting on Congress’ help to make that happen.”
The letter urges Congress to give funding to state and local governments “to offset the high cost of cleaning up drinking water supplies.”
Last month, Nessel and the Michigan departments of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) each filed comments urging the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its interim PFAS standards.
Michigan is one of only a few states that has issued enforceable standards for the two chemicals addressed in the EPA’s recommendations: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The state has water quality standards, cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water, and cleanup criteria for the groundwater-surface water interface.
The AGs urge Congress to address “urgent needs”:
- Designating certain PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as “Superfund.”
- Adding the entire class of PFAS chemicals to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), which requires certain industrial facilities to report on the amount of specific toxic chemicals released into the environment annually.
Providing funding for remediation of PFAS-contaminated drinking water supplies, particularly those in disadvantaged communities where residents’ water bills rise as a result of their municipality struggling to afford the high costs associated with cleaning up PFAS.
- Prohibiting the use and storage of firefighting foam containing PFAS at military bases and other federal facilities as soon as possible and in the meantime, providing immediate protective measures, especially when firefighting foam is used.
- Providing medical screening of PFAS exposure for appropriate personnel and members of the public, including but not limited to firefighters.
The other attorneys general are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.