The Rundown

Sherrod Brown pushes for action on bill that would tackle toxic chemicals in drinking water

By: - January 29, 2020 12:35 pm

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is calling for U.S. Senate action on House-passed legislation that would would crack down on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of chemicals known as PFAS that are said to cause serious health problems.

Brown’s call follows reports last week of PFAS chemicals found in Ohioans’ drinking water.

“Ohio parents should not have to worry about their children’s health every time they turn on the faucet,” Brown said in a release. “We need to help communities clean up the water supply, and we need the corporations who contaminated it accountable.”

Used in tape, nonstick pans and other everyday substances, PFAS have been linked to cancer, decreased fertility, developmental delays and other conditions and have been found in high concentrations in sources of public drinking water and other sites around the country. 

PFAS chemicals don’t break down once they’re released into the environment and build up in humans’ blood and organs over time, Brown’s release said.

The House-passed PFAS Action Act includes a series of provisions designed to mitigate their harm.

It would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to list certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the EPA’s Superfund program, which would accelerate cleanup of contaminated sites. That would be a “significant first step while we allow the EPA to study the remaining compounds — which needs to start now,” Dingell said in a press release.

The bill would also create a national drinking standard for certain PFAS chemicals, help people understand water testing results, prevent new PFAS chemicals from being approved and more.

The Ohio Environmental Council applauded passage of the bill in a news release Friday.

“The PFAS Action Act offers meaningful steps toward addressing the growing crisis of PFAS contamination in our drinking water,” said Chris Tavenor, staff attorney for the OEC. “The science is certain; PFAS pose a danger to our families and communities; their uses must be fully regulated.”

Brown was joined on Wednesday’s call by Dr. Susan Pinney from the University of Cincinnati, who has briefed members of Congress and their staff on the harmful consequences of drinking water contaminated by PFAS chemicals.

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David DeWitt
David DeWitt

OCJ Editor-in-Chief and Columnist David DeWitt has been covering government, politics, and policy in Ohio since 2007, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends. He can be found on Twitter @DC_DeWitt