Attorney General Tong Urges Swift Senate Action to Protect Against Toxic "Forever" Chemicals(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general from around the nation in urging the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to strengthen public health and environmental protections against “forever chemicals.” These chemicals — a class of highly toxic chemical compounds known as poly- and per-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — are widespread, persistent contaminants in the environment, including in drinking water, in Connecticut and in many other states.
In a letter addressed to EPW leadership, the coalition argues that the serious dangers posed by PFAS, combined with the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that coalition states are currently spending to protect residents from these dangers, call for swift congressional action.
“PFAS is a serious public health threat, and we need comprehensive testing and reporting to target aid to impacted communities. The federal government must strengthen its protections against these “forever chemicals,” set national drinking water standards for PFAS, and commit funding to states to respond to PFAS contamination. States cannot take on this task alone without strong commitment from our federal partners,” Attorney General Tong said.
Expanded PFAS testing is vital to ensure the safety of our drinking water and to protect public health. This EPA proposal is a powerful first step, and with some additional measures can be made even stronger. Once we have comprehensive testing and reporting, that information must be used to target remediation and aid to communities most impacted by these dangerous forever chemicals,
In their letter today, the coalition is urging the EPW Committee to “pass or build on” the bipartisan PFAS Action Act of 2021, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July. Specifically, the letter identifies several legislative priorities of the coalition states, including:
• Promoting the prompt and effective cleanup of PFAS by designating the chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law,
• Protecting public health by designating PFAS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the federal Clean Air Act and prohibiting the unsafe incineration of the chemicals,
• Protecting public health by establishing national drinking water standards for PFAS and controlling PFAS discharges,
• Providing funding for drinking water suppliers to cleanup PFAS in their drinking water,
• Providing funding to states to protect against and respond to PFAS contamination,
• Making medical screening available to all U.S. Department of Defense personnel and members of the public who may have been exposed to elevated levels of PFAS, and
• Prohibiting the use and limiting the storage of PFAS-containing firefighting foam at federal facilities.
PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used to produce countless consumer products since the 1940s, including textiles with Scotchgard; Teflon products, including non-stick cookware; food packaging; and waterproof clothing. Firefighting foam containing PFAS has also been used for decades by the U.S. military, airports, industrial facilities, and local fire departments. PFAS are estimated to be detectable in the blood stream of 99 percent of the U.S. population.
PFAS generally appear to be highly toxic to humans and animals, and they are extremely resistant to degradation in the environment — that is why PFAS are known as “forever chemicals.” Although scientific knowledge regarding PFAS is still developing, some PFAS are linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Exposure to the two most studied types of PFAS are associated with kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, immune system effects, and other conditions.
Joining Attorney General Tong in sending today’s letter to the Senate EPW Committee are the attorneys general of New York, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
Assistant Attorney General Jill Lacedonia, and Matthew Levine, Deputy Associate Attorney General/Chief of the Environment Section are assisting the Attorney General in this matter.