Providence City Council Urges State to Monitor Water Pollutant PFAS

Councilwoman Rachel Miller Introduced the Resolution in Support of Rhode Island House Bill 6064,            An Act Relating to Waters and Navigation – PFAS in Drinking and Surface Waters

Providence City Council passed a resolution tonight in support of Rhode Island House Bill 6064, an act in support of safe drinking and surface waters.  The resolution was introduced by Councilwoman Rachel M. Miller (Ward 13).

House Bill 6064 will authorize the Department of Health, in consultation with the Water Resource Board, to adopt a rule for maximum contaminant levels of Perfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS), to protect the quality and safety of the public drinking water supply.

Known as forever chemicals because of their longevity in the environment, PFAS are associated with a wide variety of health risks including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and developmental risks. This class of chemicals have been widely used in commercial and industrial products including Teflon pans, stain resistant clothing, and firefighting foam, and are found ubiquitously in the environment. A2007 study found that 98% of the United States’ population had detectable amounts of PFAS in their bloodstream.[1]

“The same chemical properties that have ensured PFAS wide use in commercial and industrial applications make PFAS a particularly pernicious and dangerous contaminant, ” stated Councilwoman Rachel M. Miller. “Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts are setting standards to protect their residents, Connecticut is considering the same. Rhode Islanders need the state to step up and safeguard our water supply. I urge the House to pass Bill 6064 without hesitation,” Miller continued.

PFAS contamination of the water supply has been detected in several New England communities, including Burrillville Rhode Island, where families served by the Oakland Association water system are still drinking bottled water. Last week New Hampshire filed a lawsuit against major manufacturers of PFAS citing widespread contamination.

“Waters across Rhode Island are being destroyed by toxic PFAS forever chemicals,” said Amy Moses, Vice President and Rhode Island Director of Conservation Law Foundation. “It’s about time our health department wake up and take this threat to public health seriously. We commend the Providence City Council for encouraging passage of legislation that will ensure Rhode Island families won’t be sickened by simply drinking out of their taps.”

The Act sets an interim drinking water standard and requires monitoring to protect public health. In the short term, it requires DOH to set a Maximum Contaminant Level for five enumerated PFAS compounds, engage in rulemaking regarding the regulation of PFAS as a class, and ultimately either regulate PFAS as a class or explain any impediments to doing so, and to investigate potential sources of PFAS contamination. The Act will also require the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to set surface water quality standards for at least five enumerated PFAS compounds and investigate the risks posed by emerging contaminants in landfill leachate.

For more information on PFAS, please visit cleanwateraction.org.

[1]  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072821/

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