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Tonko Heralds Passage of Historic PFAS Legislation

Major package of bills would establish drinking water standards and restrictions on harmful PFAS substances

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Washington, January 10, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to advance major legislation—shaped and shepherded by Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) who chairs the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change—to address the growing threat of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) often referred to as “forever chemicals.” This comprehensive package of bills, which passed the Committee on Energy and Commerce in November 2019, is designed to reduce human and environmental exposure to these dangerous substances, improve protections for first responders, and provide grants to clean up contaminated water systems. 

“PFAS chemicals have had a devastating effect on the health and welfare of countless families in New York and across our nation,” Congressman Tonko said. “Despite the urgent need to act on this issue, not enough has been done to protect our communities from these dangerous and potentially deadly pollutants. Our legislation changes that, taking necessary steps to reduce human exposure to PFAS contaminants and ensuring remediation of communities that have already be affected. I am grateful that a majority of my colleagues in the House share our commitment to act on this growing threat, and I urge the Senate and White House to approve this legislation without delay so we can take the necessary steps to protect our Capital Region communities from a dangerous and persistent form of chemical pollution.”

The PFAS legislative package approved today would:

  • Stem the flow of PFAS into the environment by requiring cleanup of sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, setting air emission limits for PFOA and PFOS, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
  • Identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
  • Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations like pregnant women, infants, and children, and holding polluters accountable;
  • Provide grants to impacted water systems, create a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, and provide guidance for first responders to limit their exposures.  

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