Read full article by Emilie Munson (Albany Times Union)


That’s the level of PFOA exposure Michael Hickey of Hoosick Falls told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress federal regulators should permit in the nation’s water.

But Hickey left a hearing at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday with no assurance that the EPA would soon set any national safety standard on the chemical that Hickey believes caused his father’s cancer and death.

David Ross, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, testified to a U.S. House of Representative committee Wednesday his agency is still evaluating whether, and at what level, to set a federal maximum contaminant level for PFAS and PFOAS.

Ross could not promise that a maximum contaminant level (MCL) would definitely be set until their evaluation is complete, he said. But a decision on setting a federal standard should be made before the end of the year, Ross added.

‘It’s disheartening,’ said Hickey, widely credited with discovering spotlight PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) contamination in the drinking water of Hoosick Falls in 2014. ‘There is enough science out there to establish an MCL.’

Hickey’s frustration at the EPA’s response to PFAs was echoed at the hearing by multiple Democratic lawmakers, most notably by Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, whose district includes Hoosick Falls…

Delgado and other Democrats pressed the EPA to quickly set a federal standard on what exposure levels to the chemical are safe and regulate the discharge of PFAs and PFOAs in water sources. They also asked for further EPA study of the health impacts of the chemicals, which have been linked to cancers, thyroid diseases and other serious health problems…

Ross assured legislators that the EPA understood the gravity of the issue.

‘You have my commitment that we share the urgency,’ Ross said. ‘We are doing everything we can as quickly as we can.’

But Ross’s inconclusive answer on whether an MCL would be set for the chemicals appears to be a step back from earlier this year, when Ross wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York saying the agency ‘intends to establish’ a standard…

‘It sounded like a backtrack,’ Delgado said after the hearing. ‘I was surprised by (Ross’) testimony. I thought there would be some level of commitment to providing an MCL and it seemed like he was not willing to make that commitment today.’

Ross said Wednesday the EPA was following its process outlined in its PFAS Action Plan announced in February to determine the need for and possible standard for an MCL. EPA scientists are now studying the numerous PFAs and PFOAs compound to determine their toxic profiles and health impacts and close what Ross called ‘the information gap’…

Delgado and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, are working on legislation regarding PFAs. and PFOAs. Tonko will participate in negotiations with the U.S. Senate over a massive national defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, that includes PFAs provisions.

‘PFAS chemicals have been entering our air and water for years now, putting countless American families and communities at risk of exposure to this dangerous and even deadly contaminant,’ Tonko said Tuesday. ‘Neither version of the NDAA we are negotiating here comes close to delivering all the solutions we will need to reduce environmental and health risks from PFAS. We need to prevent exposure and require remediation. However, I am grateful for this opportunity to keep fighting to strengthen the law to protect our families.’

Also Tuesday, the EPA awarded $6 million to several organizations to study the environmental risks of PFAS in waste streams like landfills. The New York state Department of Health and the foundation Health Research, Inc. were awarded funds to analyze samples from 150 landfills in the state and build a database to understand the types and concentrations of PFAS in the state…”