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Following Recent Discovery Of PFAS In Rockland & Westchester, Schumer Stands At Contaminated Lake Deforest To Launch Three Prong Plan To Combat Toxic Scourge Of PFAS    

Schumer Calls On EPA TO: 1) Finally Set Drinking Water Standard, 2) Propose & Implement Regs For ALL PFAS Chemicals, 3) Begin Immediate Phase Out Of PFAS 

Schumer To EPA: We Have No Time To Waste, The EPA Must Take Bold Action On PFAS Today

Standing at Lake DeForest reservoir in Clarkstown, New York, flanked by Hudson Valley environmental advocates and standing with Rockland County officials, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a three-pronged plan calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take bold steps to address per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) recently found in Rockland and Westchester homes, schools, and communities.

“For far too long, we have known of the severe toxicity to humans that PFAS contaminations hold. Now, with PFAS found in the drinking water of Rockland homes, Westchester schools, and throughout many Lower Hudson Valley communities, I’m sounding the alarm and saying ‘enough is enough,’” said Senator Schumer. “The EPA must immediately take three simple steps to curb the toxic and dangerous problem spreading through the Hudson Valley.”

“There is no question that these chemical compounds can be dangerous and need to be regulated on the Federal level. These issues are affecting Rockland residents now but could possibly be a problem across the country, and I am thankful to Senator Schumer and Congressman Jones for their attention to this issue. We must bring the resources of the Federal government to bear to address this problem,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

Three-Prong Plan:

  • First, Schumer called on the EPA to immediately set a stringent Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) to regulate PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. This MCL would provide greater certainty to Hudson Valley residents, water utilities, and local governments as to exactly how safe their drinking water is. Without an MCL uncertainty hampers local communities’ ability to this public health crisis. Although Schumer has pushed to set a legal limit at the federal level for years, EPA has failed to do so and left families across the Hudson Valley at risk.
  • Second, Schumer called on the EPA to immediately review health data for ALL PFAS chemicals together and propose and implement specific regulatory actions that they can take against ALL of them or big groups of these toxic chemicals. Schumer explained that there roughly 9,000 PFAS chemicals in existence, and the EPA can’t kick the can down the road by only addressing 2 of the 9,000.
  • Third, Schumer called on the EPA to immediately begin phasing out non-essential uses of any and all PFAS chemicals while it undertakes the first two prongs. Schumer has long-believed that existing science proves the health risks associated with PFAS are far too great to continue its use on a large scale.

Schumer explained that these actions are necessary steps to provide certainty, resources, and peace of mind to Hudson Valley communities in their fight to secure safe, clean, drinking water.

Following the previous Administrations' lack of urgency on these issues, Schumer acknowledged he was pleased to hear that EPA was reviving efforts to regulate PFOA and PFOS. However, Schumer further expounded on the need for EPA to move swiftly to evaluate the health data for the broader class of PFAS chemicals rather than addressing each of the over 9,000 chemicals individually. Additionally, Schumer echoed the calls of experts and advocates urging EPA to expeditiously phase-out non-essential uses of PFAS chemicals while this work is undertaken.

Senator Schumer’s letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan appears below and can be found here:

Dear Administrator Regan:

I write today to urge you to make it a top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) priority to swiftly establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) under the Safe Drinking Water Act for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and expeditiously review the broader health data on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) as a class in order to assess possible regulatory actions against additional members of the broader group of chemicals. Additionally, I urge EPA to quickly phase out the non-essential uses of PFAS chemicals while this assessment is completed.

The scientific and public health communities agree that PFAS chemicals pose a great public health challenge and need to be regulated at the federal level. This is reflected in the March 15 letter from 67 experts urging EPA to regulate PFAS as a class. After the previous Administration’s lack of urgency on the issue, I was pleased to hear that the EPA was reviving efforts to regulate PFOA and PFOS, but EPA must go further and quickly evaluate the health data on the broader class of PFAS chemicals. Addressing each of the over 9,000 chemicals individually is impractical, and due to their similar accumulation potential, toxicity, extreme persistence, and potential risk, EPA should review the health data of the class or closely related members within subclasses in order to assess possible regulatory actions for the broader group. As the Agency moves forward in its effort to set a MCL on PFOA and PFOS, as well as assessing the PFAS class, I encourage you to work collaboratively with states, tribes, water systems and local communities – particularly those across New York – impacted by these “forever chemicals”. While this work is undertaken, experts and advocates have urged the EPA to quickly phase out non-essential uses of PFAS chemicals, and I am adding my voice to this call for an expeditious move away from any non-essential uses of PFAS.

As you are aware, PFAS chemicals are a widespread class of toxic chemical contaminating drinking water across the nation. These chemicals have been linked to a number of adverse health effects, including certain types of cancers. Several communities across the state of New York are currently struggling with drinking water contamination, human exposure, and clean up challenges due to PFAS pollution. I have been working closely with these impacted communities to make the public aware of possible exposure to these toxic substances and to ensure proper cleanup however, without an enforceable standard these efforts are hindered. Our communities cannot continue to be left in the dark about the environmental and health risks they face from PFAS.

Although states, like New York, have set a MCL for some PFAS chemicals substances, federal drinking water standards and leadership are needed to provide tools to states, tribes, water systems, and local communities to secure safe drinking water. I strongly urge you to swiftly establish a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, while expeditiously reviewing the broader health data on PFAS chemicals as a class, and phasing out the non-essential uses of PFAS chemicals.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact my staff.