Almost half of U.S. states working on PFAS legislation

February 20, 2020

While the federal government works out its plan to address PFAS contamination, legislators from nearly half of all U.S. states have taken steps to address the potentially toxic family of chemicals.

Lawmakers from 23 states have written guidance, regulations or legislation that would address PFAS chemicals, which are linked to a series of adverse health conditions.

PFAS is a group of manmade chemicals used to water- and flame-proof consumer and industrial products since the 1940s.

The chemicals were also used by military and civilian firefighters in the form of aqueous foam to douse chemical fires.

PFAS was found in several Indiana military installations, including Naval Support Activity Crane and the former Grissom Air Force Base near Kokomo.

The chemicals were linked to cancer in adults and developmental problems in children.

Indiana’s neighbor to the north, Michigan, is one of the states most active in the fight against PFAS contamination.

It has completed a statewide test of drinking water sources and started cleaning up 76 sites contaminated with PFAS. Michigan legislators are working on creating limits for seven PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

Self-imposed limits on environmental regulations prevent the state of Indiana from matching its neighbor’s boldness.

Indiana is one of five states with a law that prevents them from setting environmental guidelines more stringent than federal standards, leaving them vulnerable to the ebb and flow of regulations shaped by politics.

Despite that impediment, Indiana lawmakers have proposed bills that would limit PFAS levels in Indiana in some capacities.

Indiana Senate Bill 414 and House Bill 1338 would set state-level maximum contaminant levels for PFAS and two other chemicals.

House Bill 1189, introduced by Rep. Peggy Mayfield and three co-authors, seeks to prohibit the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals for training and testing purposes, unless specific measures have been taken to prevent the release of the foam into the environment.

House Bill 1357 would require the testing of Lake Michigan for a series of pollutants, including PFAS.

Almost half of U.S. states working on PFAS legislation