January 28, 2019 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Rights & Democracy, Toxics Action Center, Vermont Natural Resources Council, and Vermont Public Interest Research Group released the following statement today after the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) responded to a petition from the environmental groups requesting stronger regulation of toxic Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water.
ANR agreed to set a drinking water standard for five of these harmful chemicals but declined to regulate PFAS as a class.
“No one should have to worry about drinking toxic chemicals when they turn on their tap,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “ANR’s decision to regulate five PFAS chemicals is an important first step. We are also encouraged by ANR’s commitment to evaluate options to protect Vermonters from the PFAS class of chemicals. There are thousands of these harmful substances, and CLF will continue to fight to get them out of our water.”
The groups petitioned ANR to adopt new drinking water standards that protect the public from the dangers of PFAS by regulating these harmful chemicals as a class. Without a new standard, public water systems in Vermont are not required to regularly monitor for PFAS compounds or to treat water with unsafe levels of these toxic chemicals.
PFAS have been linked to a variety of severe health problems including kidney and testicular cancer; impaired liver, pancreatic, and immune system function; thyroid disease; fertility and pregnancy issues; high blood pressure; and growth and learning problems in infants and children.
PFAS have been found in waters throughout Vermont, including in over 400 drinking water wells in Bennington County, in private and public water supplies near the Southern Vermont Airport in Clarendon and in a drinking water supply for Grafton Elementary school.
You can find the ANR response here.
“Vermonters deserve to know that the water coming out of their tap is safe to drink,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont and New Hampshire State Director of Toxics Action Center. “This enforceable standard is a step forward, but regulating 5 of the thousands of chemicals in the toxic PFAS chemical family falls short of truly protecting Vermonters’ health.”
“VNRC is pleased that ANR has taken a step to address the risk posed by PFAS chemicals in drinking water,” said Jon Groveman, Vermont Natural Resources Council Policy and Water Program Director. “However, health and environmental risk will remain until ANR regulates all the PFAS chemicals.”
Experts are available for further comment.