House passes bill declaring harmful chemical found in Alaska as hazardous by EPA

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) US Congress passed a bill on Friday mandating that the Environmental Protection Agency designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous chemicals.

Locations in the Fairbanks area associated with or suspected to contain PFAS contamination. (Alaska Community Action on Toxics)

These fluorine-based chemical compounds are commonly used for large scale industrial purposes, and in firefighting foams.

Research has revealed excessive PFAS contamination in the groundwater at Eielson Air Force Base and the adjacent Moose Creek community, as well as a handful of other locations around the Fairbanks area.

There is concern that excessive consumption of PFAS by humans can lead to a host of health effects, including cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and a hypertensive condition affecting pregnant women called preeclampsia, which can result in the death of the mother and fetus.

This bill would declare areas contaminated by these substances EPA Superfund sites, making them eligible for cleanup resources, and requiring polluters to pay for remediation.

Alaska Representative Don Young is one of a handful of Republican legislators who voted in favor of the bill. Regarding the vote, Young issued a statement on Friday morning saying that, “There is consensus that exposure to PFAS chemicals poses a risk to human health, and I am pleased to see the House take action to address serious impacts of these substances.”

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