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Senate Committee Advances Legislation to Improve Quality of Drinking Water

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Trenton – Today the Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Bob Smith that would better protect New Jersey residents from toxic per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.”


“These so-called ‘forever chemicals’ are just that – contaminants that, once introduced to the environment or to the human body, are incredibly difficult to break down and clean up,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Given the health consequences that come from exposure to these chemicals, we are looking to give the State the tools to limit New Jersey residents’ exposure to PFAS as swiftly and comprehensively as possible. It is crucial we take swift action on this legislation, to protect communities up and down state from the increasing consequences of this invisible threat to public health.”


The bill, S-3176, would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Drinking Water Quality Institute to conduct a study on the regulation and treatment of PFAS in drinking water. PFAS are man-made chemicals that accumulate in the environment and do not break down easily. These chemicals are used in a variety of consumer products and have been linked to a number of adverse health effects including endocrine disruption, cancer, immuno-toxicity, and developmental delays.


“For far too long, industries have been given a free pass to use these chemicals in consumer products, without considering their harmful effects on people and the environment,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “These substances are known to have harmful effects on both humans and animals, and it is imperative that we work to mitigate the risks that these hazardous chemicals pose. This starts by regulating its presence in our drinking water. Through undertaking this study, our hope is that we can determine tangible ways for us to remove PFAS from our drinking sources.”


Under the bill, the study would assess the feasibility of establishing a maximum contaminant level of PFAS in drinking water. The study would additionally assess treatment technologies that may be effective in removing PFAS from drinking water or wastewater.


The committee also advanced SCR.123, sponsored by Senator Greenstein. The resolution would urge the DEP to adopt new contamination standards for public drinking water, not including PFAS.


The bills were released from the committee by a vote of 4-0.