NJ Needs to Act on PFAS – Can’t Afford to Wait for EPA
The EPA only has a few more weeks to meet their plans to regulate PFAS in our drinking water by the end of 2019. In February, the EPA announced an Action Plan to regulate PFAS by the end of the year, but so far it has not moved ahead. Even if regulations are introduced, it will take a long time for them to be implemented. PFOAs and PFAs are associated with serious health risks, including testicular and kidney cancer, liver tissue damage, weakened immune systems, and developmental problems.
“The EPA has been kicking the can down the road when it comes to making our drinking water safe. Even if the EPA is able to introduce regulations by the end of the year, they will take years to implement. This has a big impact on New Jersey because almost 1.6 million people in our state are exposed to these toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and weaken immune systems. That is why it is critical for the State of New Jersey to move forward with adopting stricter standards for harmful chemicals in our drinking water,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “the Trump Administration’s failure to protect our drinking water is a direct attack on our water and will put more people at risk. New Jersey cannot afford to wait for the federal government. The DEP set good standards earlier this year, but they need to adopt them quickly to protect public health.”
According to a recent report by the Environmental Working Group, there are 517 water systems in New Jersey that are contaminated with PFAS. The EPA has detected PFOA in levels of at least 20 ppb in water systems including Ridgewood Water, Fair Lawn, Garfield, Wallington and Hawthorne. High levels of the chemical were also found in Burlington County, NJ, in a stream that runs from a wastewater plant at the Maguire-Fort Dix-Lakehurst military base to Rancocas Creek. New Jersey currently has proposed the strictest PFAS standards in the nation at 13 ppt, but they have not been adopted by the DEP yet.
“New Jersey has to move forward with stricter PFAS standards because the Federal government is moving too slow. No matter what happens with the EPA’s action plan, New Jersey still needs to keep pushing forward, because almost 20% of our population is affected by PFAS – more than in any other state. Last year, PFOS were found in Burlington, Salem, and Gloucester Counties at levels higher than the proposed DEP standards. The proposed New Jersey PFAS standard of 13ppt has not been adopted by DEP yet, but it needs to be lowered to a protective standard of 5 ppt at least,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We need the strictest standards for these dangerous materials and we need them to be as strong as possible based on strict science. We cannot count on the federal regulations to protect us. The longer New Jersey waits, the more people are in danger.”