HARRISBURG – Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry today led a coalition of 17 Attorneys General in urging the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the national list of Chemicals of Special Concern. PFAS, known as “forever chemicals,” are highly toxic to the health of humans, animals, and to the environment at miniscule levels because they are resistant to breaking down causing build-up of PFAS in the environment and living things over time.
“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water, and I am committed to defending that right,” said Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry. “PFAS have been contaminating Pennsylvanians’ drinking water for years, yet the federal government had been slow to address this threat. Therefore, we applaud the EPA for proposing this action now to determine who is manufacturing and using these chemicals, and we support other recent EPA proposals to accelerate cleanup of these chemicals. The EPA’s efforts will set the nation on a path toward safer regulation of PFAS.”
The federal Toxic Release Inventory reporting requirements facilitate the compilation of data on the releases of certain chemicals which enables the federal, state, and local governments and the public to make informed decisions. However, exemptions existed for PFAS chemicals which limited the amount of data reported. Including PFAS on the list of Chemicals of Concern – chemicals that have adverse impacts on people and the environment even at extremely low levels – will eliminate the ability of manufacturers and facilities to bypass reporting requirements under the “de minimis exemption.” Eliminating this exemption will provide the EPA and all impacted communities, scientists, and states with necessary information regarding the types and amounts of PFAS in their neighborhoods in order to make informed decisions.
The full scope of the potential PFAS contamination of the environment remains unknown. While PFAS have been detected at thousands of sites across the United States including public drinking water systems, wastewater treatment plants, and private water wells, not all potential sites have been tested. To further complicate the data, PFAS are defined differently from state to state and there is a lack of analytic methods and reference standards used to identify many of these chemicals. In this letter, the states urge the EPA to eliminate the exemptions and to create one definition of PFAS to standardize the definition to prevent any possible ambiguities concerning what PFAS are covered by this and other new rules.
Acting Attorney General Henry is leading the coalition of Attorneys General and is joined by Arizona, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, New York City, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
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