RI Denies Environmental Groups Request for Revised Drinking-Water Safety Standards

Rhode Island won’t be regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of toxic chemicals commonly known as PFAS. But it will continue testing for them. Toxics Action Center (TAC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) want Rhode Island to follow the lead of its New England neighbors and set drinking-water thresholds of 20 parts per trillion for five PFAS. 

The RI Department of Health (DOH) recently denied the request to adopt drinking-water standards for five of the most common PFAS. “Additional research and analysis are needed to better assess the threats of PFAS on public water systems,” DOH wrote in its March 11 rejection letter to TAC and CLF. DOH said it “lacks sufficient quantitative and qualitative data upon which to base appropriate regulations.”

Massachusetts and Vermont plan to test for five PFAS and treat contaminated sources. Vermont has a bill that requires annual testing and sets a level of 20 parts per trillion for public drinking-water supplies. New Hampshire is proposing rules for testing and treatment and introduced legislation that requires testing in three communities with sites polluted by PFAS. Maine recently created a task force to study PFAS contamination and remediation.

This spring DOH plans to test school wells after it learned through the EPA and regional entities that common floor waxes containing PFAS have been drained into onsite septic systems or poured directly onto school grounds.

You can read the full story from EcoRI or learn more about actions taken by the Conservation Law Foundation.

For more information on federal and state actions, check out STEEP’s Tips for Regulating Drinking Water.