Newly Formed PFAS Task Force Calls for Action to Clean Up Toxic Chemicals

January 25, 2019 | 4:52 pm
US Navy
Genna Reed
Former Director of Policy Analysis

Earlier this week, members of Congress announced the creation of a bipartisan task force intended to shine a light on the dangers of nationwide PFAS contamination. The group plans to hold briefings to further educate members of Congress and to write and push for strong legislation and funding through the appropriations process.

This exciting news comes as the public continues to wait for answers from the Trump administration, which has largely been all talk and no action on this issue. The EPA’s anticipated PFAS management plan has been delayed and documents uncovered by Politico revealed that the Department of Defense (DoD) had recently been eyeing Michael Dourson to lead a study on the health risks of PFAS. You might remember Dourson as the toxicologist who withdrew his name from consideration as EPA chemicals head last year after his industry conflicts and record of weakened standards were exposed. DoD’s consideration of Dourson for this work is a slap in the face to the communities calling for science-based thresholds that are health-protective.

The establishment of this task force is a great opportunity for Congress to push for urgent, strong action and answer the calls of so many Americans for whom drinking their own water presents a public health risk. It is composed of representatives from some of the hardest hit states, including Michigan (Bergman, Dingell, Huizenga, Kildee, Lawrence, Levin, Slotkin, Stevens, Tlaib, Upton, Walberg), Pennsylvania (Boyle, Dean, Fitzpatrick), New Mexico (Lujan), and New York (Delgado). PFAS contamination is extremely pervasive and is a national problem, impacting military bases and sites near production facilities across the country, as we detailed in a recent fact sheet. The group would benefit from even more robust and diverse membership—which is why you should encourage your members of Congress to take action on this issue and to join this important collaboration, which could prove to be critical in prompting a science-based EPA and DOD response (and scientists—here’s a way for you to use your expertise to encourage Congress to take action).

We at UCS look forward to working with members of this task force over the coming months to demand that PFAS contamination is swiftly cleaned up, enforceable standards are set, and more monitoring and research is done to better understand the scope of this toxic mess.