News | March 16, 2023

Statement: Proposed PFAS Regulations Will Benefit Minority Communities

WE ACT Praises Biden Administration’s Commitment to Environmental Justice

WE ACT for Environmental Justice today lauded the Biden-Harris Administration for taking a major step to protect the public from Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) exposure and further contamination.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed the first-ever, legally enforceable, national drinking water standard for six PFAS as part of the plan to address PFAS contamination and known health impacts. The proposed regulation would require public water systems not only to monitor for PFAS chemicals but also require systems to notify the public and reduce PFAS contamination if it exceeds the proposed regulatory standards.

“Studies repeatedly show that PFAS cause significant health impacts, most of which disproportionately burden communities of color,” said Yuwa Vosper, Policy & Regulatory Manager for WE ACT. “All Americans deserve safe, clean drinking water. Today’s action takes a significant step towards implementing more stringent measures to protect overburdened communities. We applaud the Administration’s efforts toward environmental justice.”

WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) believes that pollutants like PFAS are inherently equity issues at their core, and have urged Federal and state officials to protect communities that are disproportionately impacted. PFAS exposure is associated with harmful health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, cancer, and hormonal disruption. Studies conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) indicate that marginalized communities are significantly more likely to be impacted by PFAS in their drinking water supply. A recent UCS report stated that “nearly 40,000 more low-income households and approximately 300,000 more people of color live within five miles of a site contaminated with PFAS than expected based on U.S. census data. Furthermore, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) published a study that strengthens this statement, reporting that PFAS exposure has consistent differences by race and is influenced by product use.

“WE ACT was founded in Harlem and has continuously worked to raise awareness and pass legislation prohibiting the use of PFAS chemicals in New York State,” Vosper added. “A federal standard, combined with the availability of $2B of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will begin to provide disadvantaged communities the long overdue funding and investments rapidly needed.”

Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)