Senators demand action in response to EPA’s decision to not set limits on toxic chemicals in drinking water

"Safe water is essential to the health and well-being of every American."


20 senators sent a letter to acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler this week after reports surfaced that the EPA is refusing to impose drinking water limits on two toxic chemicals.

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the bipartisan letter to Wheeler, urging the EPA to develop federal drinking water standards for two chemicals perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Both chemicals currently contaminate millions of Americans’ drinking water and have been linked to various health problems including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and weekend childhood immunity. Currently, the EPA has no legal limits for PFOA and PFOS, only a non-enforceable health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for either chemical or the two combined.

Politico reported earlier this week the Wheeler had signed off on a still unreleased plan that would not include PFOA and PFOS on the list of materials regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The letter from the Senators calls for “immediate actions to protect the public from contamination” and warns that “EPA’s inaction would be a major setback to states and affected communities.” It continues:

Without enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, it is doubtful that a national management strategy will sufficiently confront the challenges PFAS chemicals pose to states and affected communities. This decision would also fail to consider the ongoing interagency efforts to determine the human health implications of contamination from PFAS, including the nationwide study being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

“Safe water is essential to the health and well-being of every American,” the letter concludes.

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Capito, the other Senators that signed were Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA.), Bob Casey (D-PN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV),  Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Gary Peters (D-MI).

You can read the entire letter here.


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