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 Energy: Advisory panel pushes park service to privatize campgrounds | Dems urge Perry to keep lightbulb efficiency rules | Marshall Islands declares national climate crisis Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions MORE (D-N.H.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGaetz: Some lawmakers reviewed transcript at White House On The Money: Trump takes aim at China in UN address | Consumer confidence fell as trade tensions rose | Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall 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.