Read the full article by Garret Ellison

“WASHINGTON, DC — Emily Donovan’s voice broke as she described the chaos that toxic water contamination by PFAS chemicals known as GenX have caused in the North Carolina communities that pull drinking water from the Cape Fear River.

Her husband and numerous friends are seriously ill. Incidences of rare cancer, immune disease and serious illness in young people are on the rise around Fayetteville and Wilmington.

She prays the bottled water she sends her kids to school with lasts all day and worries that chemicals in tap water they once consumed will come back to haunt them.

‘We need you to act swiftly now,’ a tearful Donovan said…

Donovan appeared on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 6, to call for action on toxic PFAS contamination that threatens many more than just North Carolinians. The three-plus hour Congressional hearing was the first of its type focused on contamination that’s become well known in Michigan, which is also grappling with a growing problem.

Seated next to Donovan was Carol Isaacs, the head of Michigan’s PFAS Action Response Team, MPART. Isaacs is coordinating the state of Michigan’s government-wide probe into PFAS contamination, which has revealed thus far that more than 1.5 million people have been drinking municipal water polluted by some level of PFAS.

Isaacs, responding to a question by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, revealed that Michigan isn’t testing for the GenX compounds which are polluting water in North Carolina. Michigan, Isaacs said, is using different testing methods that analyze a different list of compounds.

The revelation underscored a running theme of the day, which were recommendations made by multiple panel members that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to develop regulations for PFAS chemicals as a class, not just for individual compounds.

That request was made by Lisa Daniels, Pennsylvania’s drinking water chief testifying for the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, who stressed the need for a ‘holistic approach’ to regulation at a national level, as well as a unified message on the health risk among federal agencies like the EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

Sandeep Burman of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, speaking on behalf of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, characterized PFAS contamination as one of the most complex and challenging public health issues in recent years.

The absence of both federal drinking water standards as well as regulation under federal Superfund law is creating uncertainty for regulators and communities, he said. Testing in states like Michigan is turning up a wide range of PFAS chemicals – much more than just PFOS and PFOA, the two with an EPA health advisory level. This is forcing states to develop their own standards, if they can, and causing significant confusion among the general public.

‘The ability to detect these contaminants and find them have outstripped our ability to actually offer health advice to people,’ Burman said. ‘That’s the biggest conundrum states have.’…

In response to a question by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, Grevatt acknowledged the importance of accessing what the state of Michigan measures as ‘total PFAS,’ or the sum of all compounds in a given sample, saying that “we talk a lot about PFOA and PFOS, but there are many other compounds we need to focus on.”

In response to a question by Rep. Fred Upton, R-St Joseph, Grevatt said the agency has no plans to reconsider the existing health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA, which has come under significant fire this summer after the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) published a draft report with PFAS risk levels which are substantially lower.

‘At this time, EPA does not have any plans to change the health advisory level for PFOS and PFOA, but we will continue to watch the literature on this,’ he said.

Upton pressed the Department of Defense deputy assistant secretary Maureen Sullivan on why testing results at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base were held up in Pentagon bureaucracy for months when the state of Michigan was able to respond to high levels of PFAS found in the city of Parchment water this summer in a matter of days.

Upton held a sheet with testing results showing that groundwater is contaminated with PFOS and PFOA at 76,000-ppt at the base. The testing numbers do not include the sum of all PFAS compounds that were likely found during Air National Guard sampling at the site…

Isaacs said the state of Michigan has been disappointed with the overall pace of military response to PFAS contamination, pointing out that the linear process for investigating contamination under Superfund law, or CERCLA, allows for significant delay.”