Read the full article by London Gibson (Indianapolis Star)
“Concern is growing nationwide about a family of toxic chemicals found in everything from fabrics to food service containers. And that concern has now reached the Indiana statehouse.
These chemicals, often called ‘forever chemicals,’ are linked to severe health impacts, including cholesterol and cancer. They also don’t break down naturally. And they’re seemingly everywhere.
They’ve even been found in Indianapolis’ drinking water.
Known most widely as PFAS chemicals, these substances have been sparking alarm from scientists and health professionals for the better part of two decades now, but little is known about exactly where they are or how much of them is in our bodies.
Following a rising trend among states nationwide, two bills filed at the legislature this year would tackle those blind spots.
One would establish a maximum contaminant level for PFAS in state drinking water, a measure already adopted by at least 6 other states. The other bill would test PFAS levels in current and former military members, who are more likely to be exposed to the toxins because of their use on military bases.
Experts say national regulation is sorely needed to address the contamination. Some express optimism that that could change under President Joe Biden, who has promised to tackle PFAS pollution and became the first major presidential candidate to acknowledge the toxins during a campaign.
For Indiana to join other states in implementing these policies would signal leadership on the issue, said Linda Lee, an agronomy professor at Purdue University with years of experience researching PFAS. And the more states that lead, she believes, the greater likelihood that widespread nationwide change will occur.
‘There’s definitely movement in that direction,’ Lee said. ‘If states are able to do that, a lot of that’s going to trickle down for the rest of the United States.’
That said, some industry groups point out that state-level regulations vary widely. Steve Risotto, a senior director at the American Chemistry Council, which represents manufacturing companies, said this ‘patchwork’ of regulations is challenging for companies and may not reflect the best science.
‘We understand that some have concerns with the pace of this process, but would stress the importance of letting the career scientists at the EPA lead this effort rather than creating a confusing patchwork of state-based regulations that are often inconsistent, not always based on the best available science, and therefore could potentially undermine the public’s trust in the safety of their water,’ Risotto said in a statement to IndyStar.
The ACC has played a role in enacting legislation to reduce PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams, Risotto said. Last year, a bill with the same goal sailed through the legislature with bipartisan support.
However, neither of this year’s bills have yet been scheduled for a hearing, and the deadline for third hearings is this week…”