LANSING — House Democrats called on the Legislature today to take immediate action to strengthen PFAS water quality standards by passing legislation introduced in December of last year by state Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). Since PFAS was first discovered in private Michigan wells last year, 16 out of 83 counties have identified contaminated sites, with thousands of additional sites still being tested. At today’s press conference, Democrats also renewed their calls for hearings to provide answers to Michigan families as to why numerous reports on the dangers and locations of PFAS contamination were withheld from the public.
“Families across Michigan are living in a constant state of uncertainty about the safety of the water in their homes,” said House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “That uncertainty is largely the result of continued inaction from Legislative Republicans who are more focused on giving wealthy polluters tax breaks than getting answers and accountability for Michigan families. Democrats are ready to pass legislation to clean up our water and get answers for Michigan families – we welcome Republicans to join us in this fight.”
Democratic legislation would strengthen Michigan drinking water regulations for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOS and PFOA, which may increase the risk of cancer and thyroid disease. The legislation would lower the safe drinking water advisory threshold for PFOA and PFOS from 70 parts per trillion (ppt) combined to a 5 ppt limit each. Democrats also called for the Legislature to provide communities with alternative water supplies in cases of contamination instead of relying on impractical bottled water for washing, bathing and cooking.
“Access to clean, safe drinking water is a fundamental human right,” said Rep. Brinks. “My legislation will protect that right, and the families of our state, by strengthening the standards for our state’s water quality. With the health of every Michigander at stake, it is past time for the Legislature to take action.”
Since the introduction of Rep. Brinks’ legislation in December, House Democrats have repeatedly called on the chairman of the House Oversight Committee to hold hearings on PFAS contamination. Yet the Democrats’ calls for action on PFAS have gone unanswered by legislative Republicans.
“Earlier this month, PFAS contaminants were found in our waters right in our community, leading the administration to issue a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for all fish in the river,” said state Rep. Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township). “Whether it’s the dioxane plume, or now PFAS contamination, Washtenaw County families have been continuously exposed to the negative effects of corporate pollution, and it is time someone takes responsibility for the harm that has been done to our community. The time for action is now, and that means not only working to clean-up the messes that have been made, but preventing further contamination to protect the health and well-being of our area families.”
“Under Republican leadership, the Michigan Legislature and executive agencies have consistently failed to act to protect our water and the people of our state. Unfortunately, my community is one of many in Michigan to become a casualty of the state government’s inexcusable inaction on PFAS contamination,” said state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). “Many Michiganders have been drinking contaminated water because the MDEQ and the EPA ignored the warnings of their own experts for years. We must take action to protect our water and to ensure public accountability for those individuals and agencies responsible for our water resources.”
Additional information about PFAS and the House Democrats’ Action Plan can be found here.