A trio of senators led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bill designed to stem the spread of a cancer-linked chemical that has leached into the water supply. The Preventing Future American Sickness (PFAS) Act goes after a class of chemicals that uses the same abbreviation and is used in products ranging from raincoats to nonstick cookware.
PFAS substances have been called “forever” chemicals due to their persistence in the body and the environment, and cities are facing mounting bills as they seek to remove the substance from their water. The Environmental Working Group, which tracks the spread of the chemicals, has found contamination in ground or drinking water in at least 1,400 sites across every state but Hawaii.
The legislation would designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, opening avenues to force PFAS manufacturers to foot the bill for cleanup efforts. It would also allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to offer cleanup grants to entities looking to remove PFAS substances from drinking water.
“Hundreds of communities across the country are dealing with toxic PFAS contamination in their drinking water. It is unconscionable that huge corporations like DuPont have, for decades, concealed evidence of how dangerous these compounds are in order to keep profiting at the expense of human health,” Sanders said in a statement.
“Congress must pass this legislation to put an end to corporate stonewalling and criminal behavior and tackle this public health crisis. It is not a radical idea to demand that when people in the world’s richest country turn on their taps, the water they drink is free of toxic chemicals,” he added.