March 31, 2017

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Legislation to Help Protect Granite Staters from Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Legislation to Help Protect Granite Staters from Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

Legislation Requires EPA to Set Federal Safety Guidelines for Perfluorinated Compounds & to Identify a Threshold of Expected Risk to Health for PFCs Within Two Years

WASHINGTON - Continuing her efforts to ensure that all Granite Staters have access to clean, safe clean drinking water and to protect public health, Senator Maggie Hassan today announced that she is cosponsoring legislation to require that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develop a maximum contaminant level for perfluorinated compounds (including PFOA and PFOS), 1,4 dioxane, and perchlorate in public water systems across America within two years of the bill's enactment.

Currently there is no mandate to regulate these emerging contaminants under the Safe Water Drinking Act. This legislation would require the EPA to create safety guidelines and to determine legally enforceable standards that apply to public water systems. The bill, introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), requires the EPA to identify a threshold of expected risk to health for each of the listed chemicals.

"Ensuring access to safe, clean drinking water is critical to the health and well-being of our people, our vibrant communities, and a thriving economy in the Granite State," Senator Hassan said. "I'm proud to cosponsor this important legislation that will require the EPA to create federal safety guidelines for PFCs and to identify a threshold of expected risk to health for each of the listed chemicals, helping to clarify the safety and quality of drinking water from public water systems throughout the country. We must do all that we can to address and protect against contaminated water, and I will continue working aggressively with partners at the federal and state levels, local communities, and concerned citizens to help ensure that no Granite Stater has to question the safety of their drinking water."

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan worked to protect Granite Staters from contaminated water sources. As part of her efforts, she has urged the EPA to set a lifetime health advisory for certain PFCs to help states assess the safety of drinking water. In addition, then-Governor Hassan worked with state agencies, federal partners, and residents in the area to make blood tests available to everyone potentially exposed to PFCs, as well as to raise awareness about the health risks of these emerging contaminants and to expand monitoring of wells outside of the Coakley landfill footprint. Furthermore, Senator Hassan formed the Governor's Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster to help create an organized response to the health and environmental concerns that the Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster has raised.

See below for more information on the legislation:

The EPA evaluates substances that may be in drinking water by developing a Contaminant Candidate List, which lists potentially harmful contaminants that are not subject to any national primary drinking water regulations. When making the determination to regulate a contaminant in drinking water, the law requires that the EPA determine whether that contaminant meets the following three criteria:

  • The contaminant may have an adverse effect on the health of persons;
  • The contaminant is known to occur or there is substantial likelihood the contaminant will occur in public water systems with a frequency and at levels of public health concern;
  • In the sole judgment of the Administrator, regulation of the contaminant presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reductions for persons served by public water systems.

While perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), 1,4 dioxane, and perchlorate are on the Contaminant Candidate List, they have remained unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, with no monitoring or enforcement mechanism for the EPA to keep these chemicals out of drinking water sources. This bill would move this process forward by requiring the EPA to issue a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for each of the chemicals. This would establish a legally enforceable standard that applies to public water systems. The NPDWR would also identify a threshold of expected risk to health for each of these chemicals.

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