There are no enforceable limits on PFAS in drinking water or bottled water, despite exposure to these hazardous chemicals being linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and other serious health conditions
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set standards on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in bottled water, to ensure bottled water products are safe for drinking. PFAS are pervasive and persistent chemicals that accumulate in people’s bodies over time, and exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and other serious health conditions.
“Despite the clear and present danger PFAS exposure presents, there are no enforceable limits on these substances in drinking water in the United States,” wrote the Senators. “Given the widespread persistence of PFAS in our environment and drinking water, many people have turned to bottled water to avoid adding toxic chemicals to their bodies. Establishing [Standards of Quality] for bottled water is an important step that will help ensure consumer confidence and protect public health.”
PFAS were first developed in the 1940s and are used in many products across all industries due to their grease-, water-, and oil-repellent properties, including food packaging, nonstick pans, carpeting, and many more. Their properties also make them persistent in the environment, leading to PFAS becoming ubiquitous in contaminating water sources throughout the United States.
When tap water is compromised, many consumers turn to bottled water. The FDA regulates bottled water, but has not set a limit for PFAS chemicals in bottled water. Without nationwide FDA regulations for PFAS in bottled water or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for tap water, some states have implemented their own PFAS rules for drinking water, but no such state rules exist for bottled water.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
Click HERE to read the full letter.
Senators Collins and King have led efforts to assist Maine communities that are struggling with the impacts of PFAS. In May, Senator Collins and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Council on PFAS, highlighting Maine’s extensive and unfortunate history with PFAS issues and urging the Council to work with the State of Maine on remediation. In April, Senator King led a bipartisan group of colleagues, including Senator Collins, in urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow state, tribal, and local governments to use funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to address contamination from PFAS in local water supplies and farmland. Also in April, the Senate passed the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 with an amendment co-sponsored by Senators Collins and King to allow states to assist more households impacted by unregulated contaminants like PFAS.