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house Bill H.R. 535

Should the EPA Designate PFAS as Hazardous Substances & Monitor Their Presence in Water Systems?

Argument in favor

This bill would address the threat posed by PFAS contamination in the air, soil, and water by establishing standards for their safe disposal. It would also require community water systems to monitor for the presence of PFAS, and establish grants for states & water systems to address the presence of PFAS.

Ticktock's Opinion
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01/10/2020
Yes. This group of chemicals are not biodegradable but stay in the environment for decades as they accumulate. They cause cancer and disrupts variety of other biological functions from low birth weights to thyroid, kidneys, liver and immune system. This chemical group permeates the entire eco system’s animals and plants. The important thing to remember is they have been used since the 1950s, they accumulate in your body, they impede biological function and they are carcinogenic.
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jimK's Opinion
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01/10/2020
This bill makes sense. It sets up a monitoring program and scientific assessments for these widely used chemicals that do not break down and have been shown to have detrimental side effects. The process outlined addresses issues of how much is too much, how much is land, air and water borne, and quantifies the associated health hazards. It sets up a reasonable timeline for studies before imposing penalties, giving cities and industry time to react and prepare for potential resulting regulations. It is a well thought out process for assuring that the extent of public health risks are known in advance of enforcement, as well as finding realistic methods for disposal. It is one of the more thoughtful and forward looking pieces of legislation I have seen recently- in that it outlines a long term process for assessing and dealing with a long-term health hazard and is not a redundant band-aid ‘nit’ of legislation designed solely for election year ‘creds’.
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Dave 's Opinion
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01/10/2020
The far bigger question should be “how can the EPA be restored back to a level to effectively do its job?” Trump has gutted the EPA with deregulatory executive orders that denies all science and caters to the fossil fuel industry and lobbyists and has replaced many of its dedicated staff with his “dig baby dig” minions. This man is enemy #1 to the environment and he could care less about our safety. Greed. It’s all about greed. Same situation in Australia. Their leaders also have ignored the climate scientists and warnings for decades in favor of the carbon industries and look what’s happening there.
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Argument opposed

While the federal government needs to help states that are disproportionately affected by PFAS contamination, more scientific research needs to be done to understand how the more than 5,000 chemicals classified as PFAS work before this bill’s aggressive mandates are imposed. More moderate steps should be taken in the interim.

Joseph's Opinion
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01/10/2020
Not the responsibility of the federal government
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Robert's Opinion
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01/10/2020
We have do do something to stop poisoning our drinking water. Why I do not like this bill is that prevents the EPA from fining polluters for 5 years. Why the delay? People are being poisoned!
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Just.Dave's Opinion
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01/10/2020
@Dicr: Actually, history shows that democrats prefer dirty water. Look at Flint, Michigan. That was a dem that chose to use the contaminated water source. This wasn't their first of these bad decisions, and it won't be the last. So, go ahead and continue to test them out on your own people as you already do. Maybe when people start dying - oh, wait they already are... maybe people will wake up and stop voting in democrats that are willingly, knowingly poisoning them. Oh, as for my vote of opposition... It's just to oppose the left. Nothing more.
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What is House Bill H.R. 535?

This bill — the PFAS Action Act of 2019 — would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate all perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances within one year of this legislation’s enactment. It would require comprehensive testing of hazards posed by PFAS exposure in land, air, and water (including drinking water), as well as in products within six months of enactment. A final rule would be issued within two years of enactment. PFAS have been used in industrial and consumer products since the 1950s in uses such as non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics & carpets, cosmetics, firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.

A monitoring program for PFAS contaminants would be established by the EPA for all public water systems serving more than 10,000 persons. Funding would be made available through appropriations for public water systems serving between 3,300 and 10,000 persons to monitor PFAS, which would be required. Additionally, subject to the availability of funds, a representative sample of public water systems serving fewer than 3,300 persons would be required to monitor for PFAS. A revolving grant fund would be available to small and disadvantaged communities, including public water systems with fewer than 25,000 people, while there would be cooperative agreements established for states & water systems dealing with PFAS contamination.

The EPA would be prohibited from imposing financial penalties for the violation of the drinking water regulation in the first five years after the regulation is finalized. Within one year of this bill’s enactment, the EPA would publish an interim guidance on the destruction & disposal of PFAS, while the waste incineration of PFAS would be prohibited.

Additionally, the EPA would establish a labeling standard to identify pots, pans, or cooking utensils that don’t contain PFAS under the Safer Choice Program.

Impact

Consumers & the public’s health; companies that use PFAS in their products; community water systems & states; and the EPA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 535

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) offered the following statement after this bill to address PFAS contamination & exposure passed his committee:

“PFAS are persistent, toxic chemicals that last forever and spread through our water, air and soil. Today, the Energy and Commerce Committee took action to address the public health threat and growing problems associated with PFAS. This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation now includes 11 additional bills to protect Americans from PFAS and clean up waste sites. I commend all the Members who worked on this package of bills for their leadership. This legislation is critical to stopping the flow of these harmful chemicals into our environment, drinking water, cooking products, and more. I look forward to the full House voting on this bill soon.”

House Republicans opposed this bill in committee, arguing that its mandates are too aggressive in light of an incomplete scientific understanding of PFAS and that more moderate steps should be taken while research continues:

“We recognize the increased community anxiety that occurs due to the discovery of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contamination, and we understand that some states may face disproportionate burdens without more federal action. Unfortunately, H.R. 535 as amended mandates multiple, aggressive actions based on a woefully incomplete scientific understanding of the health effects of this diverse class of up to 5,000 chemicals. More modest steps are warranted in the interim to address demonstrated health risks and additional review to cover those areas that need more attention.” 

This legislation passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee on a 31-19 vote along mostly party-lines and has the support of 66 cosponsors, including 62 Democrats and four Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Ole-Gunnar)

AKA

PFAS Action Act of 2019

Official Title

To require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed January 10th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 247 Yea / 159 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Environment and Climate Change
      Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials
    IntroducedJanuary 14th, 2019

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    Yes. This group of chemicals are not biodegradable but stay in the environment for decades as they accumulate. They cause cancer and disrupts variety of other biological functions from low birth weights to thyroid, kidneys, liver and immune system. This chemical group permeates the entire eco system’s animals and plants. The important thing to remember is they have been used since the 1950s, they accumulate in your body, they impede biological function and they are carcinogenic.
    Like (107)
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    Not the responsibility of the federal government
    Like (14)
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    This bill makes sense. It sets up a monitoring program and scientific assessments for these widely used chemicals that do not break down and have been shown to have detrimental side effects. The process outlined addresses issues of how much is too much, how much is land, air and water borne, and quantifies the associated health hazards. It sets up a reasonable timeline for studies before imposing penalties, giving cities and industry time to react and prepare for potential resulting regulations. It is a well thought out process for assuring that the extent of public health risks are known in advance of enforcement, as well as finding realistic methods for disposal. It is one of the more thoughtful and forward looking pieces of legislation I have seen recently- in that it outlines a long term process for assessing and dealing with a long-term health hazard and is not a redundant band-aid ‘nit’ of legislation designed solely for election year ‘creds’.
    Like (93)
    Follow
    Share
    The far bigger question should be “how can the EPA be restored back to a level to effectively do its job?” Trump has gutted the EPA with deregulatory executive orders that denies all science and caters to the fossil fuel industry and lobbyists and has replaced many of its dedicated staff with his “dig baby dig” minions. This man is enemy #1 to the environment and he could care less about our safety. Greed. It’s all about greed. Same situation in Australia. Their leaders also have ignored the climate scientists and warnings for decades in favor of the carbon industries and look what’s happening there.
    Like (57)
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    Let’s try them out in republican strongholds. Let them be the guinea pigs. If they start to die off will ask the survivors if it’s time to start believing scientists again.
    Like (43)
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    When there is scientific evidence of harm then substances should be restricted & those wishing to use them should need to prove they are not harmful. An Australian systematic literature review of 221 publications through 2017 shows there is harm in varying levels. 1) higher blood cholesterol levels responsible for heart disease 2) higher Uric acid levels reducing kidney function 3) higher incidence of kidney & testicular cancer A Nordic Council of Ministers analysis of PFAS exposure also concludes higher incidence of kidney cancer. https://rsph.anu.edu.au/files/PFAS%20Health%20Study%20Systematic%20Review_1.pdf http://norden.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1295959/FULLTEXT01.pdf
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    No brainer. Ban this chemical.
    Like (24)
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    Support Debbie Dingell HR 535 STOP the negligence of water safety! Where are the pro lifers ? Crickets... So serious to STOP polluters! Educate yourself on PFA’s Montana Rep Greg Gianforte votes Nay. 2020 Gianforte is running for Governor of Montana and has donated over 600K to National Republican Party, I’m told! Vote Whitney Williams for Governor 2020
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    We continue to see more and more chemicals in our water. We need to be vigilant on what we allow manufacturers put in our water. We shouldn't water down EPA we should strengthen their authority.
    Like (22)
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    But why would we expect Trump and the GOP to do anything to protect our health under the depleted EPA? They have rolled back 95 EPA protections endangering the environment and American lives. Read it here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html
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    The most basic principle of Toxicology is “The dose makes the poison”. That means we MUST know the doses and monitor their movements. To do otherwise is irresponsible and unethical.
    Like (20)
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    We have dangerous levels of pfas in rivers here in North Carolina. We need safe disposal of PFAs now!
    Like (17)
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    ABSOLUTELY! WHO TRUSTS THIS ADMINISTRATION TO FOLLOW THROUGH??
    Like (15)
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    This seems an appropriate measure to pass as we move towards a more environmentally responsible model of decision-making and governing. If corporations can’t find the will to so themselves, government should not hesitate to step in for the greater good.
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    We already know these substances are toxic. We can study the 5,000+ PFAS WHILE we regulate them . We adjust the regulations as we learn more instead of waiting for more harms to manifest before we take action.
    Like (14)
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    We need to clean up our environment. This is a step toward that. Our health is at risk.
    Like (14)
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    Water is life Protect it
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    Please protect the environment for our children and grandchildren.
    Like (13)
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    With all the deregulations tRump has ordered he doesn't give a rat's ass about this. Oh hell no! He probably wouldn't even take a sip of water from a faucet! Thing were being monitored and companies were being held responsible to clean it up but tRump has seen to it to get rid of those who did their jobs. Yes we need all monitoring in place again! Get rid of trump and the trumpets and get true professional people who care about us and our planet back in charge...period!
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    Yes, there is evidence to support that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans like: low infant birth weights, negative effects on the immune system, cancer, and thyroid hormone dysfunction. Although, we no longer make these dangerous substances in the USA anymore, other countries do & we import their products containing PFAS. “People can also be exposed to PFAS chemicals if they are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products that contain PFAS. People may be exposed to PFAS used in commercially-treated products to make them stain- and water-repellent or nonstick. These goods include carpets, leather and apparel, textiles, paper and packaging materials, and non-stick cookware.... Drinking water can be a source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies.” Once exposed, PFAS accumulates in the body, leading to negative effects on health. Not only should we monitor PFAS levels in land, air & water and develop safety standards, we also need to develop testing to determine human exposure. We need to work on ways to decrease exposure, including denying trade of goods with PFAS.
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