Congressman Brendan Boyle, D-13, of Philadelphia, announced Thursday he has reintroduced a bill that would set a national drinking water standard for perfluorinated compounds for the first time.
There are hundreds of chemicals in the perfluorinated compound family, although PFOS and PFOA are the most well-known. The chemicals have been found in the drinking water of as many as 15 million Americans, including at nationally high amounts in the drinking water of some Bucks and Montgomery County communities.
Presently, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to conduct nationwide testing for “no more than 30” unregulated contaminants every five years under a program called the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. The EPA is then required to assess the risks posed by the chemicals and accept or reject drinking water standards at a required rate of at least five chemicals every five years.
PFOA and PFOS were two of the chemicals on the EPA’s third UCMR testing program, resulting in their discovery in local drinking water systems between 2013 and 2015. In the absence of a standard, the EPA has created an unenforceable “health advisory limit” of 70 parts per trillion for the chemicals in drinking water. Boyle said in a press release Thursday that it wasn’t enough.
“Every day we continue to learn more about the scope and seriousness of perfluorinated compounds across the country. It’s past time we address these contaminants with the seriousness they merit,” Boyle said.
Boyle’s bill, H.R. 3106, is brief, stipulating that the EPA publish a standard within two years of the bill’s passage. It calls for a standard for perfluorinated compounds, “including” PFOA and PFOS. It is co-sponsored by local congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Middletown, and Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, as well as Reps. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.
The bill is part of a larger package of bills, spearheaded by Pallone, that would update the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
“All Americans deserve to have confidence in the safety of their drinking water, no matter what state they live in or what activities have taken place in their communities,” Boyle added.
However, the bills likely face a perilous path. Boyle and Pallone introduced similar bills last year, which ultimately did not pass. While Boyle’s bill this year already has some bipartisan support, Pallone’s H.R. 1068 presently has none.
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