R.I. Balks at Call for Stricter Drinking-Water Standards

Rhode Island environmentalists, scientists, and health advocates say the EPA’s current 70 parts-per-trillion threshold for PFAS is too high. In an R.I. House bill (H6064) they are asking for an interim state standard of 20 parts per trillion. In March, New Jersey set interim thresholds of 13 parts per trillion.

Rainer Lohmann, associate professor at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography, has been studying the health impacts of PFAS and other industrial compounds for years.

“So the moment babies are born they have PFAS in them,” he said.” So that’s the sad aspect of this.”

But at the May 16 hearing on H6064, members of the House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources seemed unaware of the scope of the PFAS problem, especially in Rhode Island. After hearing expert testimony, they began peppering the speakers with questions about PFAS in bottled water and municipal water supplies.

Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) associate director Seema Dixit said tests of water supplies have covered 90 percent of Rhode Islanders and that more testing will occur. DOH is working with the EPA to create new rules. Dixit said the state doesn’t need to legislate new thresholds.

The bill was held for further study.

Read the full story in EcoRI News.