EWG applauded Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) for establishing a new bipartisan task force in the House of Representatives to address the urgent drinking water contamination crisis caused by the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS.
“No one has worked harder than Reps. Kildee and Fitzpatrick to bring attention to this growing contamination crisis,” said EWG Legislative Attorney Melanie Benesh. “The fact that legislators in both parties are working together shows how urgently PFAS contamination transcends partisan politics. It’s time for Congress to stop new PFAS chemicals from going on the market, require monitoring to determine the extent of the current crisis, and make the investments necessary to clean up the mess.”
Other founding members of the task force include Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.).
The task force will work to bring PFAS cleanup to the forefront of the House agenda by holding informational events to educate other members of Congress and their staff, crafting legislation, meeting with committees and congressional leadership and fighting for more robust funding through federal appropriations.
EPA tests have detected PFAS pollution in public water supplies for 16 million Americans in 33 states, but that is considered a severe underestimate of the scope of the problem. EWG and researchers at Northeastern University have tracked 172 PFAS contamination sites in 40 states, and drawing on unreleased data from the EPA tests, EWG estimates that water supplies for as many as 110 million Americans may be contaminated.
EWG’s work on fluorinated chemicals began in 2002, with a series of investigations that helped break open decades of deception by the chemical giant DuPont, which hid the risks of these chemicals from its employees and the public. The best-known PFAS chemicals are PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. Both were phased out under pressure from the EPA after revelations about their hazards and the companies’ cover-ups of damning health studies.