Last week, The House passed a bill that targets a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS that have been leaching into the water supply across the country, causing health problems in communities where water has been contaminated. PFAS are used in a variety of nonstick products such as raincoats, cookware and firefighting foam. They are considered “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment and in the human body, with 99 percent of those tested found to have PFAS traces in their body.
The legislation is Democrats’ latest attempt to regulate PFAS after similar, but less far-reaching measures were stripped from the must-pass defense policy bill. Under the bill the EPA would be required to set a mandatory drinking water standard for PFAS.
The EPA currently recommends water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS, but Democrats and public health groups say the agency needs an actual requirement — one that will likely need to be below that level to protect public health.
Republicans lamented that negotiations to require that drinking water standard fell apart in December. But now that the legislation incorporates measures from 11 previous PFAS bills, Republicans, including those in the White House, say the bill is too broad, making little distinction between the more than 6,000 forms of PFAS while opening up too many parties to liability.