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Attorney General Bonta Urges Congress to Pass Legislation to Protect Communities from Toxic Forever Chemicals

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in urging Congress to pass the “PFAS Action Act,” legislation that would amend federal environmental laws to address contamination from per-fluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (collectively, PFAS) and provide funding to treat and remediate it. Known as “forever chemicals” because of how they accumulate in the human body, PFAS are estimated to be detectable in the bloodstream of 97% of the U.S. population and have been shown to cause adverse health impacts, including developmental defects, kidney cancer, liver damage, and impacts on the thyroid and immune system. In today's letter, the state attorneys general express their strong support for provisions of the PFAS Action Act that address the entire PFAS “lifecycle”— production, use, exposure, cleanup, and disposal — and urge the swift passage of this critical legislation.  

“PFAS contamination is a public health and environmental crisis of unprecedented scope, impacting nearly every person in this country,” said Attorney General Bonta, “These toxic forever chemicals have leached into our groundwater and accumulated in our bodies, with our service members, our firefighters, and our children at particular risk. I urge Congress to prioritize the health of our communities and move to swiftly pass the PFAS Action Act. There is no time to waste.” 

PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals widely used in consumer products including nonstick cookware, water- and wrinkle-resistant clothing, and food packaging, as well as in firefighting foam. These "forever chemicals" are stable in the environment, resistant to degradation, persistent in soil, and known to leach into groundwater. Human exposure to PFAS can occur from contaminated air, water, soil, or food. Communities that live at or near military bases, airports, industrial facilities, and local fire departments, where firefighting foam was used, are particularly likely to have been exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS contaminants. Like many states, California has struggled with the public health challenge of PFAS-contaminated drinking water and widespread public exposure to PFAS at dangerous levels. Recently, the California Legislature enacted legislation banning the use of PFAS in products for children (AB 652) and in disposable food packaging (AB 1200). 

In today's letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to pass the PFAS Action Act and express their strong support for critical priorities, including:

  • Designating PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act to promote the clean-up of highly contaminated sites;
  • Designating PFAS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act and prohibit their unsafe incineration;
  • Establishing National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and controlling PFAS wastewater discharges under the Clean Water Act;
  • Providing funding to drinking water providers to treat contaminated water and to states for PFAS remediation;
  • Making medical screenings for PFAS widely available; and
  • Prohibiting the use and storage of firefighting foam containing PFAS at federal facilities.

Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.