House lawmakers demand more action to clean up PFAS chemicals

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WASHINGTON (GrayDC) They’re called PFAS, a group of toxic chemicals that are contaminating drinking water sources across the country. As residents in El Paso County, Colorado have been struggling with concerns of dangerous drinking water for years, one former resident affected by this problem is searching for answers on Capitol Hill.

“16 of my family members that lived in the Fountain Valley area for a significant time during the water contamination period have been diagnosed with cancer,” said Mark Favors, a former Colorado Springs resident.

Mark Favors grew up in Colorado Springs and is dealing with health issues of his own. He and his family thought the string of illnesses were just bad luck—until 2016.

“The Air Force says oh by the way, we had contaminated the drinking water to toxic levels for years with chemicals linked to kidney cancer,” said Favors.

The Air Force admitted in the past the firefighting foam they used contained Perfluorinated Chemicals which penetrated the drinking water, one of many ways Americans were exposed to PFAS chemicals.

“The Department recognizes this is a national problem,” said Maureen Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment.

Now, lawmakers want answers too. They say the military and the Environmental Protection Agency aren’t acting fast enough.

“Clearly, more has to be done and there must be greater urgency,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI).

Last month, the EPA issued a plan to do more water contamination studies. Lawmakers say it’s too little, too late.

“The long awaited action plan disappointed many, including many in the audience here today,” said Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA).

Maureen Sullivan with the Department of Defense told lawmakers they are investigating the extent of groundwater contamination…But Favors still feels like he and others are in the dark on the issue.

“We have no idea what’s going on,” said Favors.

The Center for Disease Control announced just last month they’ll be selecting residents in communities across the country to test their exposure to the PFAS. Those locations include El Paso County near Peterson Air Force Base.

The EPA’s Assistant Administrator at the Office of Water Dave Ross says if anyone has concerns about the amount of PFAS in their water, they should contact their local and state health agencies to get more information.

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