Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, September 27, 2019
Columbus, OH — Today, Governor Mike DeWine announced an action plan to analyze Ohio’s drinking water for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) applauds the Governor’s choice to address this issue and identify communities at-risk for PFAS contamination. His proposed plan includes testing public and private water systems near known sources of PFAS.
PFAS are a massive family of nearly five thousand unregulated chemicals used to make many common-place products, from non-stick pans to rugs to firefighting foams. The problem with these chemicals is that the substances pose myriad health risks, including cancer, and most PFAS haven’t been properly studied.
“We applaud Governor DeWine for taking action to determine the extent of contamination,” said Chris Tavenor, Staff Attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council. “Ohio must also develop adequate protections to protect drinking water from PFAS. Not only do we need drinking water protections, we also need adequate safeguards to regulate the polluters and producers of PFAS, too.”
Earlier this year, the United States EPA developed a national PFAS Action Plan, but critics, including the OEC, believe its proposed process will take too long. The ground-zero for PFAS was along the Ohio River in Southeast Ohio near Parkersburg, West Virginia. In 2018, the Ohio Environmental Council submitted a Petition for Rulemaking to the U.S. EPA to regulate PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act as soon as possible.
“Governor DeWine has the opportunity to join other states, like Michigan, in leading regulation of these emerging contaminants,” said Tavenor. “Even as the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health conduct their study, the Ohio EPA should move forward with Primary Drinking Water Regulations and Water Quality Standards for PFAS. The General Assembly should ensure adequate funding exists to assess the entire state for PFAS contamination, protecting all communities.”