WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is calling on the Trump administration to respond more urgently to water contamination caused by harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in order to protect human health.
In her letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Senator Baldwin is demanding more EPA research to make PFAS testing more accessible and affordable and more research at CDC on how PFAS exposure harms human health, along with emphasizing the critical need for collaboration between the agencies to address this issue.
Baldwin writes, “The scope of PFAS contamination is expanding, with new areas of contamination discovered regularly. The problem is growing, but your actions have failed to reflect the seriousness of this threat.
She continues, “Multiple communities in Wisconsin are facing PFAS water contamination, including the Town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and surrounding areas. The groundwater in this community has some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination in the nation as a result of years of manufacturing and open testing of firefighting foams. Earlier this month, I held a meeting with community leaders in this area who are advocating for public and private action to address the contamination of their soil and water. Representatives from state environmental and public health agencies were also present to share the actions the State of Wisconsin is taking to respond to PFAS contamination. I invited and encouraged staff from both CDC and EPA to attend, but both agencies declined.
Baldwin concludes, “I am calling upon EPA and CDC to urgently pursue research that advances environmental testing technology and improves scientific understanding of how PFAS affect human health. These two research goals are closely related. Therefore, it is essential that your agencies closely collaborate as you carry out this critical mission.”
Senator Baldwin is also requesting information from EPA and CDC on the following:
· Whether the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) currently have reliable scientific information to advise medical professionals on the health implications of PFAS exposure;
· Which actions the CDC and ATSDR are taking to advance the science on how PFAS chemicals affect human health;
· When the EPA’s process of setting an enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level for two PFAS chemicals–PFOA and PFOS–will be complete; and
· How the CDC and EPA are collaborating to assist states and communities in understanding the need for environmental PFAS testing and the health risks of PFAS exposure.