Report by Paula Antolini, November 4, 2019, 2:35PM EDT
To protect Connecticut’s residents and environment from the harmful effects of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), Governor Ned Lamont established the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force on July 8, 2019. This Task Force, which is led by the Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and contains representatives from a broad variety of state agencies, is tasked with delivering a PFAS Action Plan to Governor Lamont by November 1, 2019. This Action Plan will contain a comprehensive strategy to:
- Minimize human health risk for Connecticut residents,
- Minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment, and
- Identify, assess, and clean up historic releases of PFAS to the environment.
To address these three focus areas, the Task Force established Committees on
These Committees welcomed participation from all interested stakeholders.
Today Governor Lamont Receives Final Action Plan From PFAS Task Force
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force, the group he created this summer and tasked with making recommendations for him to consider that address the potential harmful effects of a widely-used class of chemicals known as PFAS, has transmitted to his office its final action plan.
The plan recommends testing water supplies across the state, reducing the sources of PFAS in the environment, and cleaning up known contamination due to this class of emerging pollutants.
“I applaud the work of this task force, which is the result of a collaborative effort among public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders coming together to address an emerging contaminant with real impacts globally, nationally, and right here in Connecticut,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “I look forward to working with stakeholders to take the steps necessary to further protect the health of our citizens and our environment from these chemicals, which are so pervasive in consumer products and industrial processes.”
Key recommendations include:
- Testing public drinking water through a phased approach that prioritizes drinking water sources most vulnerable to PFAS pollution or that serve vulnerable populations, and communicating and educating public water systems customers and stakeholders;
- Working to develop a Safe Drinking Water Advisory Council to advise the commissioner of Department of Public Health on potentially setting a maximum contaminant level for PFAS;
- Identifying and evaluating other sources of human exposure to PFAS including fish, shellfish and agricultural products;
- Minimizing occupational exposure to PFAS by identifying workplaces where these chemicals may be used or manufactured and helping employers implement strategies to control exposure;
- Identifying the operations, processes, and consumer products that may be sources of PFAS contamination and establish standards and discharge limits for PFAS in air and water;
- Establishing PFAS cleanup standards for soil, groundwater, surface water and aquatic life and continue to use existing statutory authority to investigate and cleanup PFAS releases;
- Developing an interagency geographic information system (GIS) database that identifies the universe of potential sources of PFAS pollution and the populations that may be most vulnerable to exposure; and
- Establishing a public outreach team to enhance communication with affected communities and other stakeholders.
The recommendations also include reducing or preventing future releases of PFAS-containing firefighting foam into the environment by supporting a number of actions, including the development and implementation of best practices for handling aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF); legislation that limits the use of AFFF; an AFFF take-back program for state agencies and municipal fire departments; and the evaluation, selection and procurement of PFAS-free alternatives for fire suppression foam.
The task force is co-chaired by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie S. Dykes and Department of Public Health Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell, and includes representatives from several state agencies and entities. The group released a draft action plan on October 1 and solicited public comment on it through October 15, receiving more than 400 comments that helped shape its final set of recommendations.
“This action plan represents a significant milestone in the commitment Governor Lamont’s administration has made to address this group of emerging contaminants and the risks these chemicals may pose to people and the environment,” Commissioner Dykes said. “I’m proud of the work this task force has done in partnership with stakeholders and constituents and on behalf of our communities to outline a strategic approach to implementing actions that can protect our residents and the environment now and in the future.”
“PFAS chemicals are emerging contaminants and a growing body of scientific research suggests that some PFAS compounds can be harmful to humans,” Commissioner Coleman-Mitchell said. “Many of the compounds studied thus far have been found to be toxic at very low levels, and they accumulate in our bodies over long periods of time. Further research is necessary to fully ascertain the risks posed by PFAS and to develop alternatives that are not harmful to humans. The policy recommendations contained in this action plan are just the beginning of many years of work reducing health risks created by environmental exposure to PFAS. I applaud Governor Lamont’s leadership in pulling this task force together and committing Connecticut to taking this issue head on.”
PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoro-alkyl substances, a group of more than 4,700 man-made chemicals that have been used since the 1940s for their heat resistance and water, oil, and dirt-repellence. Because of their stability, PFAS resists breakdown by natural processes and persist in the environment indefinitely, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” PFAS chemicals have been widely used in the United States since the 1940s and are commonly found in fire-suppressant foam and many other commercial sources, such as food packaging, stain resistant carpeting and upholstery, non-stick cookware, and waterproofing material for raincoats, boots, and other items.