Twenty-two Democratic state attorneys general, including Maryland’s Brian E. Frosh (D), are pressing Congress to pass legislation that would aid states in addressing the public health threat of toxic “forever” chemicals.
In the letter sent Tuesday to Congress’ top four leaders, spear-headed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the AG’s call for action to help states address and prevent the growing dangers of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of super-resilient, man-made chemicals that contaminate drinking water. Additionally, the attorneys general urged Congress to provide adequate funding to help state and local governments offset the cost of cleaning up drinking water supplies.
“We are asking Congress to act now to prevent further damage to human health from these persistent toxic chemicals,” Frosh said in a statement. “Hardest hit are our public safety personnel, like our firefighters, but anyone can suffer extensive, severe damage to their health from exposure to PFAS chemicals. Maryland and other states need help from Congress now to manage the fallout from the mere existence of these chemicals.”
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.
While both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have advanced legislation that addresses issues related to PFAS contamination, the attorneys general urge members of Congress to address “the most urgent legislative needs” of states as they work on a final agreement on this legislation.
Also signing the letter were the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.