“PFAS contamination will be elevated as a Congressional issue in September during a Senate subcommittee hearing to explore clean up and health effects among the waves of people – including veterans and fire fighters – exposed to the toxins.
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan) announced the hearing on Thursday, August 23, as Michigan officials mark the halfway point of a $1.7 million effort to test thousands of water systems and wells for the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances known as ‘forever chemicals.’
Also among the people exposed to the chemicals: 1.5 million Michigan residents who unknowingly had it in their drinking water. Undetermined so far is what that total will reach once the state concludes the testing.
‘Michiganders across the state have been unknowingly and involuntarily exposed to harmful PFAS chemicals, and they deserve a clear picture of both the full extent and long-term effects of the contamination,’ said Peters, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management.
The subcommittee meeting will be September 26 in Washington, D.C. So far, Peters and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) will make statements. Hearing witnesses are still to be announced.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a 70 parts per trillion lifetime health advisory for the most common versions of the chemicals, which have been found in consumer products like Teflon pans, Scotchguard and Goretex. They’ve also been used in industrial settings that require repelling water and in fire-fighting foam.
Testing for PFAS in the nation’s largest water systems were initiated by the EPA from 2013-2015 as understanding of the chemicals’ dangers became more widely known.
Since then, public health experts have urged more research into the contaminants as citizen advocacy groups emerged in towns across the U.S. where drinking water contamination was discovered.
By June, another federal agency issued a report urging that health standards be reduced for two of the most common types of PFAS from 70 ppt to 7-10 ppt.
However, the EPA guideline remains non-regulatory, leaving states to navigate contamination without a national enforceable standard. That’s an issue when seeking cleanup funds from polluters, which in many cases is the US government, due to the military uses of the fire-fighting foam over decades…
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton is urging military officials by letter to release data on the PFAS testing at the W.K. Kellogg Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.
‘It is utterly unacceptable and irresponsible that any information on PFAS levels could be withheld from individuals who are possibly affected,’ he wrote.
The data, collected three months ago, remains under review at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., according to Upton’s office. Two homes near the base are receiving bottled water for drinking and cooking after their wells tested over 70 ppt.”
Read the full article by Paula Gardner