Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bill, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which would improve regulation and focus on the clean up of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances which have been proven to be hazardous to both the environment and human health.
The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate and if it passes there, these long-lasting synthetic chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” will be a key focus in regulation.
“Forever chemicals” are compounds that may take hundreds, or even thousands, of years to break down in the environment. They can also persist in the human body, potentially causing health problems, writes the Scientific American.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and passed 241-183 in the House.
“We are one step closer to protecting the health of Americans from these toxic forever chemicals,” says Dingell.
According to Common Dreams, researchers have linked long-term exposure to PFAS to numerous health problems, including cancer, reproductive harm, immune system damage, and other serious issues. Despite the grave risks and adverse effects associated with toxic PFAS, contamination is widespread after decades of inadequate regulation.
“This bill will help minimize harmful exposure to these dangerous chemicals by requiring strong standards to keep PFAS out of our air and water and facilitating the cleanup of contaminated sites that pollute communities and endanger our health,” says Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.
The PFAS Action Act of 2021 designates PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Superfund program and requires the EPA to mandate the cleanup of sites contaminated with the two PFAS chemicals. Within five years, the EPA would be required to determine whether the remaining PFAS chemicals should be designated as hazardous substances requiring cleanup. In addition, the bill requires the EPA to adopt a drinking water standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for certain PFAS to ensure the public is protected, particularly pregnant women, infants, and children, writes Consumer Reports.