U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) voted today for H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019, comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to address the public health threat from PFAS chemicals. Per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals that have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer, immune system effects, infertility, impaired child development, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. Because of their strong atomic bonds, these are known as “forever chemicals” that are extremely persistent in the environment.
“Our first responders should be protected from PFAS and our families deserve to know that the water coming from their tap is safe to drink,” said Representative Sherrill. “I’ve been particularly touched hearing from military firefighters in my community who have detailed their concerns with PFAS used in fire-fighting foam on base and PFAS levels found in their blood during testing. Congress must work together to protect Americans from the persistent public health risk posed by these forever chemicals.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), millions of Americans are exposed to unsafe levels of PFAS through their drinking water and contamination has been found across the country, much of it around industrial facilities and Department of Defense (DoD) installations.
Representative Sherrill led efforts in the House Armed Services Committee to require the DoD to provide blood testing to DoD firefighters to determine potential exposure to PFAS.
H.R. 535 will provide the protections impacted communities need quickly and for the long term. The PFAS Action Act of 2019 would require EPA to use tools under several environmental statutes to:
Stem the flow of PFAS contamination into the environment by requiring cleanup of contaminated sites, setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
Identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS exposure, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants, and children, and holding polluters accountable. The legislation also provides grants to impacted water systems, creates a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, and provides guidance for first responders to limit their exposures.