Legislation mandating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to declare two polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous substances eligible for EPA Superfund cleanup resources and requiring polluters to pay for remediation passed the U.S. House on Jan. 10.
Among those voting in favor of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, was Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.
“There is consensus that exposure to PFAS chemicals poses a risk to human health, and I am pleased to see the House Take action to address serious impacts of these substances,” he said.
“Too many Alaskan communities, particularly those in close proximity to military bases, have faced challenges in remediating PFAS contamination,” said Young, a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force. “It has been one of my priorities this Congress to address the issue of PFAS contamination in our state and across the country.”
The Republican congressman’s support of the legislation drew kudos from Pam Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, who founded ACAT in 1997. “We’re very thankful that Congressman Young took a strong stand on PFAS and protecting public health in Alaska.”
PFAS has been a concern in some areas of Alaska because of fire suppressant foams that end up in wells near airports and military bases and do not break down. PFAS, also linked to cancer, is also found in cooking products including nonstick pans and in some food packaging.
Last June, Alaska Public Media reported on a decision by the administration of Gov. Mike Dunleavy to defer to the EPA over safe levels of PFAS chemicals in drinking water in Alaska. Then in September several environmental groups, including ACAT, released a report consolidating scientific research and public testing results that identified over 100 sites in Alaska where PFAS was found in drinking water.
ACAT has released reports noting that decades of use of firefighting foams has contaminated water in Alaska, and that more than 100 individual PFAS source areas have been identified at nearly 30 locations across Alaska. ACAT has called for a ban of PFAS in firefighting foam and enforceable drinking water standards to ensure the safety of the water in Alaska.
More information on ACAT efforts to protect Alaskans from PFAS is online at akaction.org.