Council Supports State Efforts to Protect Rhode Islanders from Harmful Chemicals in our Water Supply & Food Packaging

Mar 4, 2021 | 0 comments

Tonight the Providence City Council passed two resolutions, sponsored by Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), to support several initiatives before the Rhode Island General Assembly to reduce Perfluorinated and Poly-Fluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) in Rhode Island’s water supply and in food packaging in our state. The resolutions were co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5),Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Chairman John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Councilors Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), John Goncalves (Ward 1), and Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), James Taylor (Ward 8), and Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3).

The first resolution supports and urges the passage of House Bill 2021 H-5523 and Senate Bill 2021 S-107, which will require the RI Department of Health to set a Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS and requires that our public waterways and drinking supply be sampled and monitored for PFAS contamination. The second resolution supports and urges the passage of House Bill 2021 H-5356 and Senate Bill 2021 S-0110, which eliminate the manufacture, sale, and distribution of food packaging to which PFAS have been added.

“These initiatives in our General Assembly and State Senate are significant steps in the effort to improve food and water safety in Rhode Island. PFAS are persistent chemicals that are known to cause harm to humans and the environment. It is time for the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Management to take action to set standards and testing protocols to protect the health and safety of Rhode Islanders. I know that my colleagues in government trust science and believe that we should do everything we can to protect and care for the health and safety of Rhode Islanders and our environment. PFAS have been linked to cancer, developmental issues in children, problems with fertility and pregnancy, and a host of other serious health problems. That is why we must act now to reduce these harmful chemicals from our food and water,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.

PFAS are highly persistent chemicals that have been widely used in consumer products since the 1948. They are often used in food packaging to prevent grease and other fats from sticking to the paper packaging. However, PFAS are released during production processes and remain in the environment for long periods, entering the air and bodies of water. Because of this widespread contamination, PFAS can often be found in the blood of both humans and wildlife. Over the years, concern has grown regarding the health consequences of frequent exposure to PFAS.

“One of the most precious resources we have in the State of Rhode Island is the Narragansett Bay, and we must do whatever we can to protect this natural resource. Further, PFAS that end up in our water inevitably end up in our sea life. As a state with a robust seafood industry, we have to protect and preserve the catch’s quality. Doing so will protect jobs and this important economic generator. I applaud Councilor Miller for working to ensure that we are supporting important green and healthy initiatives at the General Assembly, and I too add my voice to the chorus of my colleagues who want to see these bills pass and enacted,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan.

The resolutions passed, and copies will be sent to the Rhode Island General Assembly and the Providence Delegation.

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