Senators call on EPA to restrict key drinking water contaminants

Senators call on EPA to restrict key drinking water contaminants
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of 20 senators has called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate allowable drinking water levels of two chemicals linked to various health problems.

The letter was sent Friday by Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Biden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate MORE (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress braces for chaotic December MORE (R-W.Va.) and others, days after Politico reported that the EPA is expected to decide against setting drinking water limits for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as part of an upcoming national strategy for dealing with the class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

“If this is accurate, EPA’s inaction would be a major setback to states and affected communities,” the senators wrote to acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler.

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“Therefore, we ask you to develop enforceable federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, as well as institute immediate actions to protect the public from contamination from additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”

EPA did not directly deny Politico's report, but said in a statement earlier this week that officials had not published a final decision on whether to regulate the substances' levels in drinking water.

The letter comes days before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee votes on Wheeler’s nomination to be the EPA’s official administrator. Capito and many of the Democrats who signed onto the demand sit on that committee.

PFOS and PFOA have been used to manufacturer various products like firefighting foam and non-stick materials. They could be cancerous, and have been linked to other health problems like immune system disorders and developmental delays.

Communities around the country have started to discover PFOS and PFOA in their drinking water supplies, leading to growing calls for EPA action.