Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul is among 22 state attorneys general calling on Congress to pass legislation to help states meet the public health threat associated with hazardous industrial chemicals known as PFAS.
Used for decades in products such as firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, stain-resistant sprays, and fast-food wrappers, the virtually indestructible fluorinated compounds end up in drinking water and have been linked to illnesses, including cancer.
“Drinking water contamination can result in serious public health problems,” Kaul said in a news release. “Congress should take swift action to protect the safety of our water, including by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance.”
The letter, also signed by top law enforcement officials from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, calls on federal lawmakers to provide states with money to help clean up drinking water supplies, to treat the chemicals as hazardous and ban them from military bases.
The letter also asks Congress to declare certain PFAS chemicals “hazardous substances,” which would force cleanups of some of the most contaminated sites, and to add all PFAS compounds to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of toxic substances in order to document releases into the environment.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is developing administrative rules in the fall to establish groundwater quality standards for two PFAS compounds — PFOA and PFOS — because the federal EPA does not have standards for the contaminants.
The state Department of Health Services has recommended a combined groundwater enforcement standard of 20 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS.
Ten municipal wells in Madison where the chemicals have been detected have been at levels below the new recommended state standards. One well about a mile from the Truax Field Air National Guard Base, where the chemicals are used in firefighting foam, has been shut down as a precaution.