Read the full article by Jon Hurdle (Delaware Public Media)

“Cleaning up water in the First State is on lawmakers’ minds this session.

Delaware is close to creating trust fund to help increase spending on water infrastructure in Delaware.

And late last month, a bill was introduced looking to set specific state limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Contributor Jon Hurdle takes a closer look at that bill and how it compares to similar efforts elsewhere.

Is it time for Delaware to set its own standards for protecting public health from toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water?

A bill introduced in the General Assembly in March would require the state to establish so-called maximum contaminant limits for two kinds of PFAS chemicals in drinking water to shield the public from contaminants that have been linked to multiple health problems including some cancers, high cholesterol, immune system problems and developmental issues in young children.

The measure is the state’s latest response to growing national concern about the presence of PFAS chemicals in water supplies, leading to more regulation by some states, and a new effort by the federal government under President Joe Biden to restart a process that may eventually lead to national standards being set.

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will begin a new round of investigation on the chemicals’ presence in drinking water and will restart a process that could result in federal regulation of two kinds of commonly occurring PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS.

And in March, Biden proposed $10 billion to monitor and remediate PFAS contamination nationwide, as part of a massive $2 trillion infrastructure program.

The EPA does not have enforceable standards for the two chemicals or any of the thousands of other chemicals in the class, prompting advocates for federal regulation to say that it is long overdue, and leading some states to set their own standards.

The agency publishes only a ‘health advisory limit’ which recommends but does not require water systems to set 70 parts per trillion (ppt) as the safe drinking water limit for the two chemicals, individually or in combination — a level that many campaigners say is much too high to protect public health.

Federal efforts to tackle the problem have also included a bill introduced in 2019 by Delaware’s senior U.S. Senator, Tom Carper, which would have designated PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, requiring that polluters pay for cleanup.

Although the bill was not reintroduced, Carper said he’s now working with the EPA to set a national drinking water standard on PFAS. 

‘PFAS contamination affects Delawareans and millions across the country,’ he said in a statement. ‘It’s clear we need to do more to protect communities from PFAS exposure…’”