MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul is leading a 22-state coalition today in filing comments to the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) supporting the agency’s plan to regulate perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), more commonly known as PFAS or “forever” chemicals, under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. While supportive of regulating PFOS and PFOA, the states also asked EPA to propose final drinking water standards for those specific chemicals and other PFAS that reflect current science and protect human health, as quickly as possible.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice is helping to lead this call for more effective protections against PFAS because safe, clean water is vital to Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Kaul. “PFAS contamination is devastating for those who are impacted by it. We need strong federal action to protect Wisconsinites from forever chemicals.”
PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. Those contaminants may be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Human health effects associated with exposure to PFOA may include kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and preeclampsia; exposure to PFOS is associated with immune system effects, changes in liver enzymes and thyroid hormones, and other conditions.
Across the country, PFAS contamination is most often associated with military bases, firefighting training centers, civilian airports, and industrial facilities. PFAS chemicals tend to be persistent in the environment and have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam. Some states with significant PFAS contamination are currently spending tens of millions of dollars to address the contamination in public drinking water systems, and to investigate numerous areas and sources of potential contamination.
The attorneys general state in the letter, “[…] without treatment, PFOA and PFOS contamination will continue to worsen and will persist in drinking water sources indefinitely. Due to the harmful effects of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, swift promulgation of stringent final drinking water standards is crucial to enable EPA to take effective regulatory enforcement actions to address PFAS contamination.”
Attorneys general from the following states and districts joined Attorney General Kaul’s letter: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.