May 16, 2019 (MONTPELIER, VT) – Conservation Law Foundation, Toxics Action Center, Vermont Natural Resources Council and Vermont Public Interest Research Group released the following statement today after Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a bill to establish a drinking water standard for five toxic Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS).
The law also requires comprehensive testing for PFAS at public water systems, includes a process to evaluate the regulation of PFAS as a class or subclasses, requires a statewide investigation of PFAS sources, and provides the Agency of Natural Resources with additional tools to protect Vermonters from emerging contaminants.
“Vermonters shouldn’t have to wonder if they’re being poisoned every time they turn on their tap,” said Jen Duggan, Vice President and Director of CLF Vermont. “Until the federal government wakes up and takes these toxic chemicals off the market, it’s up to states to protect us. This law is a huge first step in ensuring Vermonters have safe, clean drinking water.”
Called ‘forever chemicals’ because they never fully break down, PFAS have been widely used in products that many of us rely on every day – nonstick cookware, food wrappers, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. It’s estimated that almost every American has one of these toxic compounds in their blood.
“By passing this law, Vermont is saying: enough is enough,” said Shaina Kasper, Vermont and New Hampshire State Director of Toxics Action Center. “Toxics don’t belong in our water, and this law is the first step in getting them out.”
PFAS have been linked to a variety of 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.
Jon Groveman, Policy and Water Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council added, “S.49 takes the vital step of addressing the impact of PFAS chemicals in our surface water as well as drinking water. There is no question that these ubiquitous toxics are harming Vermont’s streams, rivers, lakes and ponds and the threat posed by these chemicals must be addressed.”
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.
“Clean, safe drinking water is an idea that everyone should be able to get behind,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “We applaud the work of legislative champions, especially those from the Bennington area, for their tireless efforts to put greater protections in place for all Vermonters.”
Experts are available for further comment.