Rep. Peter Welch has signed on to a bipartisan letter demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency released a study on the health effects of the chemicals PFOA and PFOS.
Last week, Politico reported that the EPA was withholding the report which was conducted by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR.)
The online journal said a Trump administration aide was blocking the study because it would have created “a public relations nightmare.”
Welch was one of 13 members of Congress to sign on to the letter which demands that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt release the information, as well as explain why the report was suppressed.
“It’s a bipartisan group where the folks who serve in a Congressional district are hearing from people they represent and it’s Republicans and Democrats,” says Welch. “If there’s unsafe drinking water that does equal harm to everybody, and all of us I think here in Congress who want to protect the health and safety of the people we represent want this information to be released.”
The study reportedly shows that the chemicals have adverse health effects at levels much lower than the federal agency has admitted.
PFOA and PFOS have been linked to thyroid disease, testicular cancer, high cholesterol and fertility issues.
More than 200 private wells around Bennington are contaminated with PFOA, and the chemical is showing up in public and private water supplies across the country.
“Too many communities across the nation are plagued by ongoing, serious questions regarding the threat the contamination may pose to their health and to that of their loved ones,” the members of Congress wrote. “Some also doubt the commitment of the federal government to address this issue in a manner that prioritizes and adequately addresses their health concerns.”
The EPA has set its safe drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS at 70 parts-per-trillion (ppt.)
Vermont’s standard is 20 ppt, and the EPA is now evaluating the federal standard.
In the letter, the members of Congress say that decision “should be guided by science and free from political interference.”