HEADLINES

Maloney Votes to Protect Hudson Valley from PFAS Chemicals

Maloney’s bill to require PFAS testing passed as part of the package with bipartisan Support, Moves to the Senate

Last Wednesday July 21st, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) voted to pass the PFAS Action Act, a sweeping, bipartisan legislative package that aims to protect Americans from “forever chemicals” — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The package will protect air, land, and water from PFAS contamination by setting drinking water standards, placing limits on waste disposals, and designating the chemicals as hazardous substances. The PFAS Action Act contains Rep. Maloney’s bill, the PFAS Testing Act, which he first introduced in 2019.

Rep. Maloney’s bill requires testing of all PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act by any entity that manufactures or processes PFAS chemicals. His bill also requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set testing requirements for all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and make all results public.

“Access to clean and safe drinking water is something every family deserves,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “I am proud my legislation to require the testing of PFAS substances and the publication of results was included in this bill. This bipartisan legislation is an important step towards safeguarding our health and protecting the land, air, and water around us for generations to come.”

PFAS are commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” because the toxins don’t break down over time and have been linked to serious health effects including cancer, premature death, asthma, and infertility. 

Rep. Maloney has long been a leader in the fight to clean up PFAS contaminated sites. When unacceptably high levels of PFAS were found in the City of Newburgh’s water supply, he worked to mitigate the problem. Teaming up with city, local, and state officials, they cleaned up the water supply, prevented further contamination, and made sure the residents didn’t get stuck footing the bill. 

In October of 2016, Rep. Maloney introduced the Investing in Testing Act to require the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct a federal study into the long-term health effects of PFOS/PFOA exposure in response to water contamination concerns in Newburgh. He reintroduced the bill in the 115th Congress. The NDAA passed the House of Representatives on November 14th and became law with Rep. Maloney’s provision included.

Now, Newburgh has a clean water source and Rep. Maloney helped to secure funding to aid mitigation efforts and continues to work across all levels of government to ensure said contamination never occurs again. A new filtration system at Stewart Air National Guard Base was installed in December 2019.

Rep. Maloney also fought and secured $1,800,000 in the Appropriations minibus for the town of Lewisboro to repair the Oakridge Water District public water system, which was recently found to have PFAS levels above New York State’s maximum contaminant level for public drinking water systems. 

H.R. 2467 will provide the protections impacted communities need quickly and for the long term.  The PFAS Action Act of 2021 would require EPA to use tools under several environmental statutes to: 

  • Stem the flow of PFAS contamination into the environment by requiring cleanup of sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, 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, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
  • Inform communities of PFAS risks by requiring the EPA Administrator to develop a risk-communication strategy and establish a website with information on testing of household well water; and 
  • Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations 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, provides guidance for first responders to limit their exposures, and requires effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for PFAS introduction or discharge.  

The PFAS Action Act will generate and rely on science to address PFAS risks.  To keep science at the forefront of decision-making, the bill directs EPA to:

  • Address the two most studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, right away while requiring the development of needed health and safety studies on all other PFAS;
  • Identify relevant subclasses of PFAS and tailor testing for those classes, recognizing that different types of PFAS may pose different risks and require different risk management approaches; and
  • Meet deadlines for further regulatory decisions based on when that scientific data should be available, without predetermining what those decisions should be.

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