Sen. Brinks makes drinking water protection first order of business

Legislation would set enforceable PFOA and PFOS levels, hold polluters accountable

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) made protecting drinking water her first order of business in the new legislative session with the introduction of a bill that would establish the lowest allowable level of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in the nation.

Senate Bill 14 would amend the Safe Water Drinking Act and set maximum contaminant levels at 5-parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS. It comes on the heels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to postpone a public meeting on contamination at the Wolverine World Wide tannery site in Kent County.

“The people of Michigan have seen what can happen without safeguards that protect our drinking water,” Sen. Brinks said. “Enforceable PFOA and PFOS levels will prevent the type of devastating contamination families are facing in West Michigan and more than 30 other sites across the state. It is our duty as elected officials to ensure our communities are safe and polluters are held accountable.”

PFOA and PFOS are two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often referred to as ‘forever chemicals.’ The toxins build up in a person’s body over time and are linked to life-threatening health issues, including cancer. Michigan currently follows a federal advisory of 70-ppt set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, the advisory isn’t legally enforceable, putting the health of Michigan families at risk.

Sen. Brinks has been a vocal advocate for stricter regulations that protect the Great Lakes, rivers and critical sources of drinking water from toxic contamination.

In the Michigan House of Representatives, she introduced legislation to set enforceable standards for PFAS levels, establish reporting standards, and require governments to provide safe drinking water alternatives when they are responsible for polluting drinking water. Brinks also called on both the Snyder and Trump administrations to end the suppression of memos and reports detailing the dangers of PFAS, as well as recommended actions to protect citizens.

Senate Bill 14 is similar to House Bill 5375 of 2017, also sponsored by Brinks. House Republicans refused to act on the bill despite repeated calls for hearings.


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