Rush Votes to Protect Chicagoans from Dangerous “Forever Chemicals”

Jan 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) voted in support of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate all perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances within one year of enactment of this bill. The bill passed the house 247–159.

“From Flint to Newark, we have long known there is a direct correlation between a person’s zip code and the quality of their drinking water, and unfortunately, if you have a Chicago zip code, that means you are more likely to be exposed to dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS chemicals in the water that you are drinking.

“Last year, the Environmental Working Group found a total of 20 PFAS contaminants across Chicago’s water supply between 2012 and 2017, 10 of which were detected to be above the group’s recommended health guidelines.  Many of these chemicals have been linked to adverse health effects including cancer, immune system effects, infertility, impaired child development, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease.

“This is completely unacceptable and why I was proud to support the PFAS Action Act, which will curb the flow of these hazardous chemicals into our environment and protect the health of my constituents, regardless of their zip code,” said Rep. Rush.

The PFAS Action Act of 2019 would require EPA to use tools under several environmental statutes to:

  • Stem the flow of PFAS contamination into the environment by requiring cleanup of sites contaminated with PFOA and PFOS, setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
  • Identify health risks by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water; and
  • Limit human exposure to PFAS by requiring a drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations like pregnant women, infants, and children, and holding polluters accountable.  The legislation also provides grants to impacted water systems, creates a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, and provides guidance for first responders to limit their exposures.