Langevin Votes to Protect Americans from PFAS, “Forever” Chemicals That Pose Serious Health Risks

Washington -- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), voted today in favor of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which establishes federal regulations for and promotes the remediation of Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to protect public health. The bill was passed by the House by a vote of 247-159.

“PFAS have long been associated with devastating health issues and have been detrimental to the environment,” said Langevin. “It is unfortunate that the Environmental Protection Agency has stalled on this public health threat that is present in our drinking water, our soil and our air. PFAS are disrupting lives, including those of Rhode Islanders, and it is up to Congress to establish clear standards and regulations to prevent their further spread. This legislation is an important step to safeguard our people and precious natural resources like drinking water. It also provides much needed support for communities that have been exposed to these toxic substances through federal funding for cleanups.”

PFAS, also referred to as “forever chemicals,” are man-made and extremely persistent in the environment. The substances bioaccumulate in wildlife and humans and are linked to severe health issues such as cancer and impaired child development. PFAS contamination has been confirmed in the water sources of more than 1,400 communities, including nearly 300 military installations and 15 sites throughout Rhode Island. Last month, Congressman Langevin expressed his disappointment that provisions regarding PFAS were dropped from the final National Defense Authorization Act but lauded efforts to put in place limitations on military use of the chemicals.

H.R. 535 would require the EPA to stem the flow of PFAS contamination by requiring cleanup of contaminated sites, setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce. Further, it pushes to identify health risks by requiring health testing for all PFAS, reporting of releases, and drinking water monitoring. It will also limit human exposure by requiring the adoption of a drinking water standard and provide grant funding to help impacted water systems control PFAS-related discharges.