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Shaheen, Capito Lead Bipartisan Letter Calling on EPA to Set Federal Drinking Water Standards for PFOA and PFOS

**Following Reports that the EPA Will Not Set Federal Drinking Water Standards for PFOA & PFOS, Bipartisan Group Calls on EPA to Show Leadership to Keep Water Safe & Protect American Families**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led a bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging the agency to develop federal drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as part of the agency’s national management plan for this class of chemicals. The letter also requests that the EPA provide briefings on the agency’s efforts on this issue, as well as regular updates on the progress of those efforts.  The Senators’ letter comes in response to a report that the agency does not plan to establish enforceable drinking water standards for the chemicals, which have been linked to a variety of adverse health implications.

The Senators wrote, “As you are aware, PFAS chemicals have emerged as a widespread contaminant in drinking water sources in several communities across the nation. While the risks associated with PFAS exposure are still being uncovered, studies have linked these unregulated emerging contaminants to a number of adverse health effects. On May 19, 2016, the EPA established lifetime health advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS. These health advisories, however, are non-enforceable and deprive states of much-needed federal guidance on how to determine and implement effective drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS chemicals.” 

The letter goes on to explain that in the absence of federal standards, states have been forced to establish their own drinking water regulations for PFAS. The lack of coordination among states has led to a patchwork of conflicting drinking water standards and guidelines across nine states, which have varying maximum contaminant levels and have raised concerns in impacted communities that are questioning whether their regulations are sufficient. 

In their letter, the Senators continued, “Without enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, it is doubtful that a national management strategy will sufficiently confront the challenges PFAS chemicals pose to states and affected communities. This decision would also fail to consider ongoing interagency efforts to determine the human health implications of contamination from PFAS, including the nationwide study being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).” 

Senator Shaheen successfully established the ATSDR study, which is the first-ever nationwide health study on the impacts of PFAS substances in drinking water. Because of Shaheen’s efforts, Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire — the former Pease Air Force Base — will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study. 

In closing, the Senators called on the EPA to commit to developing federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, to provide briefings to the Senators’ offices on the agency’s efforts on this issue and to deliver regular updates on the agency’s progress. 

The letter is also signed by Senators Hassan (D-NH), Stabenow (D-MI), Tillis (R-NC), Carper (D-DE), Udall (D-NM), Murray (D-WA), Casey (D-PA), Leahy (D-VT), Cantwell (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Heinrich (D-NM), Brown (D-OH), Sanders (I-VT), Manchin (D-WV), Menendez (D-NJ), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-MA) and Peters (D-MI).

The letter can be read in full here.