Governor Lamont Orders Formation of Working Group to Examine Issues Concerning PFAS
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is directing several state agencies, led by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health, to immediately convene a working group to examine issues related to the chemical PFAS. Used in firefighting foam, studies have linked PFAS, a class of thousands of chemicals involving perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, to potentially cause dangerous health problems.
The governor outlined his instructions regarding the group in a letter to the relevant state agency commissioners:
July 8, 2019
Dear PFAS Workgroup Leaders ,
I am establishing an interagency team to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of a group of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, and I am asking for your agency to participate in the working group.
PFAS are a family of synthetic chemicals manufactured and used worldwide since the 1940s that have recently entered the national spotlight as emerging contaminants with serious adverse impacts on human health, even at low concentrations in the parts per trillion range. Due to their unique chemical composition, PFAS are highly stable and have properties that include repelling water, oil, grease, and heat, making them useful in a wide variety of industrial processes and consumer products (e.g., nonstick cookware, food packaging materials, stain-resistant carpets, water-resistant apparel, detergents, personal care items, and floor waxes), as well as in firefighting foams used to extinguish flammable liquid fires. These properties also allow PFAS to resist natural degradation and be highly mobile in the environment, making these chemicals pervasive and persistent pollutants.
Additionally, research has proven that many PFAS bioaccumulate in humans and animals and are linked to numerous health issues that include various forms of cancer, developmental effects in infants and children, and decreased liver, thyroid, and immune system function.
With the current absence of federal regulations governing the exposure, use and disposal of PFAS, the burden is on individual states to take measures to educate their residents about the risks associated with exposure to PFAS and to implement appropriate safeguards. As such, the Connecticut Departments of Public Health (DPH) and Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) have begun to lay the groundwork for a state action plan that will require input and assistance from your Department.
Collaboration among agencies will be necessary to complete and then implement the action plan for PFAS. The action plan must include a comprehensive strategy to:
The risks that PFAS pose to Connecticut residents and the environment command our attention and prompt action. Therefore, I have asked DEEP Commissioner Dykes and DPH Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell to chair an interagency workgroup. I encourage each of your agencies to participate and either you or a key member of your team to serve on the workgroup.
The first meeting will be on Tuesday July 30, 2019 from 1-3 p.m. at the Department of Public Health’s laboratory located at 395 West Street Rocky Hill, CT 06067. Additional logistical details and an agenda related to the meeting will be coming soon.
Please feel free to contact Commissioners Coleman-Mitchell and Dykes to confirm your agency participation and designated agency representative to the workgroup.