Environment Subcommittee Examined PFAS Chemicals and Their Risks

Mar 6, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 6, 2019)—Today, the Subcommittee on Environment, chaired by Rep. Harley Rouda, held a hearing on PFAS Chemicals and their Risks.

TAKEAWAYS

  • There is bipartisan support for regulating PFAS chemicals, which are found in many household items, have contaminated drinking water in many parts of the country, and are unregulated at the current time.  Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.  

 

  • The Department of Defense admitted that they will need $2 billion to clean up PFAS contamination at 401 military installations in the United States.  PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam are the main cause of drinking water contamination at military installations and surrounding communities.

 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency would not provide specific dates for its determination later this year about whether or not to regulate PFAS chemicals. 

 

  • The Subcommittee has serious outstanding questions regarding the industrial producers’ role in the PFAS health crisis, including what companies knew about toxic PFAS chemicals and when did they learn this information.  There has been reporting that large industry producers knew of the health risks associated with these chemicals for decades and did nothing.    

 

  • The Subcommittee has outstanding questions regarding the influence lobbyists and industry representatives played, and will play in the future, at the EPA related to the agency’s handling of the PFAS health crisis. 

BACKGROUND

  • The purpose of the hearing was to examine (1) the health effects associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure, which include decreased fertility, birth defects, liver disease, and increased risk for thyroid disease and cancer; (2) efforts by the Department of Defense to minimize exposure in and around military communities and (3) the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released action plan regarding these substances.
  • PFAS chemicals have been used in a variety of household and industry products for decades in the United States, including fire-fighting foams used by the Department of Defense (DOD). 
  • PFAS chemicals are currently unregulated by the federal government.
  • Reps. Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are the leaders of a bipartisan Congressional Task Force on PFAS to propose House action on cleanup and development of PFAS-free military and industrial substances.  

 

WITNESSES

 

The Honorable Dave Ross

Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

Ms. Maureen Sullivan

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment

U.S. Department of Defense

 

The Honorable Daniel T. Kildee

Representative for the 5th District of Michigan

U.S. House of Representatives

 

The Honorable Brian K. Fitzpatrick

Representative for the 1st District of Pennsylvania

U.S. House of Representatives

 

VIDEO

Watch Chairman Rouda’s opening statement at today’s hearing.

Watch Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s question line at today’s hearing.

 

116th Congress