SCHUMER URGES EPA TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE UPDATED DRINKING WATER GUIDELINES FOR PFOA & PFOS-RELATED CONTAMINATION; SENATOR SAYS RECENT DISCOVERIES OF DANGEROUS CHEMICALS IN UPSTATE NY WATER SUPPLIES – LIKE HOOSICK FALLS – SHOW THAT COMMUNITIES MUST BE ARMED WITH MOST UP-TO-DATE STANDARDS TO ENSURE HEALTH & ENVIRONMENT ARE NOT COMPROMISED
Recent Discovery Of Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) In Hoosick Falls & Petersburgh, And Elevated Levels Of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) In Newburgh – A Synthetic Chemical & Pollutant, Related to PFOA – Could Pose Environmental & Health Risks To Local Communities
Schumer Urges EPA To Immediately Publish A New PFOA & PFOS Health Advisory So Upstate Communities Can Make The Best Decisions To Protect Drinking Water Sources & Public Health
Schumer: EPA Promised to Publish New Water Contamination Guidelines “By Spring” – and It’s Now May
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) to use its world-class technical expertise to immediately release its updated drinking water health advisory for both Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS). PFOS and PFOA are both perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) that have been produced for the manufacturing of a wide variety of commercial and consumer products. Both chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment and resistant to natural environmental degradation. The toxicity and bioaccumulation potential of PFCs can pose a serious risk to human health, which is why Schumer said the EPA must act quickly to issue guidelines regarding acceptable levels of contamination. Schumer said this will help ensure the health of the environment and the public in communities where this contamination has been found – like Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh in Rensselaer County and Newburgh in Orange County – are not compromised.
“The EPA must publish its new PFOA and PFOS guidelines – yesterday,” said Schumer. “They promised to do it by spring, and here we are in May. Communities like Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh have all expressed sincere concern over the emergence of PFOA in drinking water sources. They need clear guidelines from the federal EPA in order to map out the best plan of action for the local community that best protects both public health and the drinking water.”
Schumer said that these three communities have seen high levels of contamination in their water supplies recently. The PFOA that was discovered in Hoosick Falls was linked to the use of this dangerous chemical to manufacture products for an extended period of time at the McCaffrey Street plant, now owned by Saint Gobain Performance Plastics. In Petersburgh, it is believed to be linked to a plant owned by Taconic Plastics. Just this month, in the City of Newburgh, two bodies of water – Silver Stream and Washington Lake – were found to contain PFOS. Following the Hoosick Falls incident, Schumer has been urging the Saint-Gobain to promptly, proactively and transparently work with both federal and state environmental officials to define and clean-up the PFOA contamination. Following the discovery of PFOS in Newburgh, Schumer urged the EPA to immediately provide testing and planning assistance to the City.
Schumer said these incidents in Upstate NY highlight the fact that the EPA must do more to ensure communities are armed with the most up to date and accurate information in regards to acceptable levels of contamination, so that they can take steps to ensure the health of the environment and the public are not compromised. That is why Schumer is pushing the EPA to immediately release its PFOA and PFOS guidelines , citing that it is imperative the EPA publish an updated health advisory as soon as possible, in order to help communities across the U.S. and Upstate NY have the most up to date information in regards to the risks these contaminants pose to human health. Schumer also said that, along with these updated guidelines, the EPA should issue guidance that would help states and communities better manage their responses to contaminations after they are found in the drink water supply.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the EPA appears below:
Dear Administrator McCarthy:
I write to urge the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) to immediately release its updated drinking water health advisory for both Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctyl Sulfonate (PFOS) in drinking water. Following the recent discoveries by the City of Newburgh, New York of PFOS contamination in two local bodies of water, along with the towns of Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, New York discovery of PFOA in their drinking water, it is imperative that EPA publish an updated health advisory as soon as possible in order to help communities across the United States have the most up to date information in regards to the risks these contaminants pose to human health along with guidance to assist local communities and states in their decision making process after contamination is detected.
As you know, cases of PFOA and PFOS contamination have recently been on the rise across the United States. Perfluorooctane sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic acid are man-made chemicals that were commonly used in a wide variety of commercial and consumer products. They are both extremely persistent in the environment and resistant to natural forms of environmental degradation. The toxicity and bioaccumulation potential of these chemicals can pose serious risks to human health, for example they have been linked to an increased risk for multiple types of cancer, thyroid diseases, as well as many other serious health problems. That is why it is imperative that the EPA immediately releases updated safety guidelines for PFOA and PFOS. EPA has previously said that a new health advisory would be available by the spring of 2016. These guidelines would help not only affected communities, but also those who may be affected in the future, respond appropriately to this serious health threat.
The EPA is world renowned for its technical expertise and experience in dealing with many different varieties of drinking water contamination. With the rise in prevalence of these two emerging contaminants in our drinking water, it is imperative that you release an updated health advisory for both PFOA and PFOS immediately, so that communities who have to confront this issue in the future are armed with the most up to date and accurate information in regards to acceptable levels of contamination and steps to ensure the health of the environment and the public are not compromised. In addition, I urge you to include additional information and guidance that could be provided along with these updated guidelines that would help states and communities respond more quickly and efficiently to this serious human health risk.
Again, I thank you for your work in protecting our nation’s health and the quality of our drinking water. Thank you for your attention to this important request.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator