Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dept. Of Health Asks For $1.4 Million For PFAS Monitoring, Oversight; And Helps Assess Climate Health Risk

On February 25, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine told the House Appropriations Committee her agency is requesting $1.4 million for support monitoring and oversight of environmental contaminants, including PFAS.
In response to a question from Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Levine said more specifically the funding would improve the Department’s epidemiology capacity in the Bureau of Epidemiology.
“They [PFASs] are widely used in commercial and industrial processes. There has been large-scale contamination of drinking water near military bases where PFAS were used in firefighting exercises," said Levine. "We are working with Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to run pilot programs and assess community risk to PFAS.”
DEP’s proposed budget includes a $132,000 item on PFAS testing. The proposed Restore Pennsylvania proposal also includes project funding to help deal with cleaning up contamination caused by PFAS and other pollutants.
Rep. Comitta also asked what the Health Department was doing to assess the potential health risks associated with climate change.
Levin again pointed to the Bureau of Epidemiology which she says works with DEP on the issue.  She noted the increasing spread of tick and mosquito-borne illnesses could be the result of climate change.
Click Here for a copy of written budget testimony and a video of the hearing (when posted).
State Drinking Water Level
In response to the February 14 announcement of a PFAS Action Plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DEP said it would begin the process of setting its own health limits for 2 PFAS chemicals because it was unclear when the federal government would set a standard.
Specifically, DEP said it will be moving forward with an RFP to hire a consulting toxicologist to evaluate existing health studies with the goal of establishing a Maximum Contaminant Level in drinking water.
The Environmental Quality Board, the body that adopts regulations for DEP,  accepted a rulemaking petition to set an MCL for PFOA chemicals from the Delaware RiverKeeper in August of 2017 and the state has been trying to hire a toxicologist to support the effort of setting an MCL since then.
For more information on interagency efforts to address PFAS contamination, visit the PFAS Action Team webpage.

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