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  • Writer's pictureBy Pacific Island Times News Staff

Perez seeks local regulation of 'forever chemicals' in Guam’s drinking water

Sen. Sabina Flores Perez said on Friday that dialogue with local entities is crucial following the passage of H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It is critical that we establish interim action levels, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), which is the maximum permissible level or that which is known to be harmful to human health, in order to regulate these chemicals in our island’s drinking water to protect the health of our people,” Perez said.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as "forever chemicals," are a class of chemicals that are extremely hard to break down in the environment, yet exist in Americans’ drinking water. Forever chemicals have been detected above health advisory levels in three wells on Guam, two of which have been shut down due to persistently high levels.

H.R. 2467 mandates the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designate these substances as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980.

The House resolution requires the regulation of PFAS within two years of enactment into law.“The measure brings per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances one step closer to being regulated by USEPA,” Perez said.

PFAS is found in firefighting foams used at airports and military bases, products made with Teflon, and even food packaging materials such as pizza boxes. Despite being linked to health problems including cancer, liver damage, and immune dysfunction, PFAS has yet to be regulated.

“It is time that discussions begin to take place, particularly now that funds can be allocated to support the monitoring and treatment of these toxic chemicals,” Perez said. “We have to think about Guåhan’s children and future generations.”

Congressman Michael San Nicolas' amendment 117, which has been included in the bill, provides a set-aside of all grants are reserved for insular territories to include Guam.

"Our water resources need to be protected and kept safe, not just with words but with action and resources, and the passage of H.R. 2467 brings us the federal support we need to make this happen," San Nicolas said.

"With original language making PFAS grants to territories optional, we saw it necessary to make it affirmative, and are very grateful to the Energy and Commerce Committee and Rules Committee for their support of our amendment to secure access to these resources for all our insular territories," Congressman San Nicolas added.

"With passage in the House, we look forward to H.R. 2467 moving forward in the Senate, and optimistically await its outcome," San Nicolas said.

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