Levin introduces bill to prevent air pollution from incinerated PFAS


A park in the shadow of Marathon's oil refinery in southwest Detroit, where PFAS contamination has been found. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • A park in the shadow of Marathon's oil refinery in southwest Detroit, where PFAS contamination has been found.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin on Monday introduced a bill that would temporarily ban the incineration of a toxic class of chemicals known as PFAS until more stringent standards are in place.

The PFAS Safe Disposal Act would require the Environmental Protection Agency to create standards to prevent the chemicals from being emitted into the air when they’re burned.

New research suggests that PFAS, when incinerated, are released into the air, potentially polluting water and food supplies. Researchers at Bennington College found unusually high amounts of PFAS in soil and surface water samples near a commercial facility in upstate New York last year that burned firefighting foam containing the chemicals. In November 2020, New York banned the incineration of firefighting foam with PFAS compounds.

The PFAS Safe Disposal Act is especially important for Michigan because it has more identified PFAS sites than any other state. PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals," are a hazardous family of human-made chemicals used in many consumer and industrial products, such as firefighting foam, tanneries, cell phones, cookware, food packaging, metal platers, Scotchgard, and Teflon.

“Sadly, Michiganders know all too well the impact PFAS and other harmful chemicals have on the health and wellbeing of our communities,” Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, said in a statement. “My PFAS Safe Disposal Act ensures that we find safe methods to dispose of PFAS that protect our homes and communities against contamination. We cannot let these chemicals plague Michiganders’ health by taking no action. I’ll continue to lead proudly in the fight to protect families from forever chemicals like PFAS.”

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced a bill last year that would give vulnerable and disadvantaged communities priority for federal funding to clean up drinking water contaminated by PFAS. The legislation remains tied up in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Earlier this month, Maine became the first state to prohibit the use of PFAS compounds in most products by 2030.

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