New report calls for states, cities, to take lead on combating PFAs crisis

Sep 10, 2019

Great Lakes states should lead efforts to combat PFAs contamination - without waiting for federal action.

That’s the message of a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

The report outlines ways that states can move to aggressively combat the PFAs crisis.

PFAs, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer.

Oday Salim co authored the report. He said it urges cities and states to act now to develop policies and practices for combating PFAs.

“Some members of Congress have made this a priority and for example are looking to invest in monitoring but even if congress steps up, given the current EPA we may be waiting a long time for action and even when that action comes it may not be protective enough,” Salim said.

Salim said states and cities should use legal frameworks in the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and Hazardous Waste cleanup laws to enforce PFAs cleanup and permitting standards.

Cathy Wusterbarth is a resident of Oscoda, Michigan, where PFAs have been leaking from a former air force base. She said residents have been waiting too long for federal action.

“Over nine years have passed since the discovery of these toxic chemicals in our water yet the federal government has failed to put any real plan in place and protect our water,” she said.

Salim said even if the federal government claims that it cannot be held to state pollution standards, there are ways state PFAs standards could be used to hold the government accountable.

“If states were to create cleanup criteria standards for groundwater or soils and military base contamination eventually found its way to state property we actually think those state standards would apply,” he said.

The report advises states and cities to act now to develop enforceable drinking water standards, clear guidelines for effluent permits, and monitoring requirements, among other things.