Read the full article by Alex Kuffner (The Providence Journal)

“PROVIDENCE – Three years after it was proposed in Rhode Island, a statewide limit on so-called ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water is moving to the verge of passage. 

The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Friday approved a bill that enacts a standard of 20 parts per trillion for six of the most common compounds in the family of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The human-made chemicals, which are used in cookware, food packaging, firefighting foam and other products, have been linked to cancers, hormonal disruption, low birthweights and other health problems. 

The vote follows Senate approval of the standard, meaning it’s now up to the full House to decide whether to approve the bill and move it one step closer to the governor’s desk. This is the furthest the legislation has gotten since it was first put forward in 2019. It passed the Senate last year but stalled in the House. 

RI PFAS limit may already be obsolete

While the bill’s progress will be welcomed by clean-water advocates, it comes amid an ever-evolving understanding of the public-health dangers posed by PFAS chemicals that could make Rhode Island’s standard outdated before it’s passed. 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new health advisories for two of the most common compounds in the chemical class, both of which would be regulated by the Rhode Island bill. Under the EPA’s new findings, virtually no detectable amounts of PFOA or PFOS are considered safe to consume. 

So while the state is considering regulating PFOA in parts per trillion, the EPA’s recommendation is in the parts per quadrillion, a level that is 1,000 times more stringent. 

If the cap makes it into state law, Rhode Island would join a growing list of other states in the nation, including most in New England, that have placed a limit on the concentration of the chemicals in drinking water systems.”…