Bill for lower PFC limits in water dies in committee

Jun 17, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

A conference committee of representatives and senators failed to agree on a final version of a bill to set stricter limits on the amount of PFCs in water.

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are chemicals used in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, and many other products. The state Department of Environmental Services is investigating PFC contamination in several towns in southern New Hampshire.

The long-term health effects of PFCs are not fully understood. While almost everyone has small amounts of PFCs in their body, some studies suggest long-term exposure is linked to cancer and other health problems.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 70 ppt of PFCs in drinking water. Right now the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services also uses that limit. However, several states have lower standards. For example, New Jersey has a limit of 14 ppt.

HB 463, the bill that died in conference committee, would have required the Department of Environmental Services to adopt a limit on PFCs in water within 180 days of the bill passing. The limit must be supported by the best available studies and “reasonably protect public health, particularly prenatal and early childhood health.” 

HB 463 would also give the Department of Environmental Services more power to regulate PFCs released into the air that later make their way into the water supply.

Supporters of the bill argued that the lower standards in other states demonstrate that New Hampshire can do more to protect the health of its citizens. In a press release, Senate Democrats cited a report that said New Hampshire is tied with Alabama for the second worst PFC contamination of drinking water in the country. 

Opponents noted that the Department of Environmental Services already has a detailed process to set pollution limits. That process includes considering public health as well has technical and financial feasibility. Opponents argued HB 463 would oversimplify and rush that rulemaking process.

Other opponents noted that lower pollution limits would lead to higher costs for municipalities to test and treat public water supplies.

Do you support a lower limit on PFCs in New Hampshire water? What should the state consider when setting limits? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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