HARRISBURG – February 27, 2019 – Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee today. A major topic of conversation was our region’s PFAS crisis. Addressing this crisis from both an environmental and public health perspective is Senator Maria Collett’s (D-Bucks/Montgomery) top priority.
Senator Collett was pleased to hear Secretary Levine acknowledge that PFAS issues are a top priority for the Department of Health (DOH) and share how the DOH is working collaboratively with their federal partners and with other state Departments of Health to address this crisis with urgency and efficiency.
The Secretary highlighted that Governor Wolf’s budget allocates nearly $1.5 million in new funding for responsive monitoring and oversight of environmental contaminants, the majority of which will go towards addressing PFAS-related issues.
Senator Collett pressed the Secretary about the DOH’s efforts to educate local health providers: “My constituents are concerned about the health effects of this contamination [and] about the lack of information their physicians are armed with.” Secretary Levine acknowledged these frustrations and committed to work to better educate the medical community and the public.
Senator Collett also inquired about the anticipated CDC/ATSDR multi-site health study, in which a limited number of locations will be selected for a study that will look at the relationship between PFAS exposure and health outcomes. Senator Collett strongly urged the DOH to work collaboratively with our community members and other stakeholders to avoid any diluting effect of multiple local applications and make sure those most affected are able to take part.
Finally, Senator Collett pressed the Secretary about the DOH’s timeline for hiring a toxicologist. Secretary Levine offered that the DOH has interviews lined up next week and is cautiously optimistic.
Senator Collett recently invited Secretary Levine to visit the 12th District to meet with affected community members and looks forward to continuing this conversation: “The people of my district are scared, frustrated, and suffering. They want to be heard. And they want action. I look forward to continuing this conversation with my constituents and Secretary Levine so we can bring them some hope and, more importantly, a path towards solutions.”
Keeping a major campaign promise to protect our communities from the dangers associated with contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Senator Maria Collett has already introduced two bill memos for co-sponsorship on the PFAS issues discussed today: (1) “Pennsylvania PFAS Classification and Cleanup,” which amends Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) to include PFAS, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS); and (2) “Updating Environmental Standards for Drinking Water,” which lowers the acceptable level of PFAS in our drinking water to 10 parts per trillion.