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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 16, 2020 10:32 AM
From: Senator Maria Collett
To: All Senate members
Subject: Updating Environmental Standards for Drinking Water 
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation that lowers the acceptable levels of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) in our drinking water in the Commonwealth of PA to 10 parts per trillion (ppt). This action will provide a higher level of protection for our constituents and will enhance public health and safety across the Commonwealth. This legislation was previously introduced as SB 581 in the 2019-2020 session with Senators Hughes, Santarsiero, Farnese, Fontana, Costa, Dinniman, Muth, Mensch, Tartaglione, Leach, Haywood, Kearney, A. Williams and Iovino as sponsors. 


The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), through legislation, has the authority in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to set many environmental standards. One such area of responsibility is the establishment of the acceptable standards of PFAS in our drinking water. 


At present, the standard (or highest levels) of PFAS allowable in Commonwealth drinking water is set at 70 ppt, in line with the EPA’s health advisory level. Over the past few years and in the absence of federal leadership, many questions have arisen as to what an acceptable benchmark of PFAS should be. The legislature may set these standards. 


Measurements of PFAS have spiked in Montgomery and Bucks Counties where contamination of public and private wells has occurred as a result of PFAS chemicals which were used by U.S. Navy and Air National Guard personnel at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base and Horsham Air Guard Station in Horsham, and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. These chemicals are found in the fire suppression foam which was used by firefighters at the base in regular training exercises and in extinguishing fires. The substances have now leaked into local drinking water supplies, surface water and ground water causing great alarm to local residents. There are legitimate and reasonable concerns regarding this contamination as well as what the acceptable levels of PFAS should be. 


A great deal of research exists which has established associations between PFAS and a range of negative health effects, including infertility, high cholesterol, and a variety of cancers. Existing standards are based largely on outdated research and an assumption of short-term exposure. State-of-the-art technology in the form of in-plant filtration and the use of carbon filters on wells can achieve the goal of lowering the levels of PFAS, and other chemicals, in the short-term. It is time to lower the acceptable standard of PFAS levels in drinking water in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 


Please consider co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, please contact my Legislative Director at Tom.Holroyd@pasenate.com 


Introduced as SB611