CU urges House Energy Committee to support AQUA bill’s provisions for lead-free drinking water


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Consumers Union Urges House Energy & Commerce Committee to Support AQUA Bill’s Provisions for Lead-Free Drinking Water, Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the House Energy and Commerce Committee today prepared to mark up the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act (H.R. 5320), or AQUA Act, Consumers Union wrote Chairman Henry Waxman and members of the committee in strong support of the bill, citing two important sections, one aimed at reducing lead in drinking water and one to implement a screening program for endocrine disruptors.
Section 15 of the AQUA bill is the Get the Lead Out Act (H.R. 5289) introduced by Reps. Anna Eshoo and George Miller. Ellen Bloom, Consumers Union’s Director of Federal Policy and Washington Office, and Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Policy Analyst for Consumers Union, wrote to the committee: “The persistence of lead in drinking water is a significant threat to human health, and H.R. 5320 would essentially eliminate the use of lead in drinking water fixtures and plumbing. H.R. 5320 provides a common sense and essential limitation on lead exposure to protect families throughout the United States.”
Section 16 of the AQUA bill is the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Enhancement Act (H.R. 5210) introduced by Rep. Ed Markey. Consumers Union wrote: “Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) present a variety of risks to human health, including interference with endocrine function and increased risk of cancer. Phthalates, bisphenol A, polychlorinated biphenyls and other EDCs are used in the plastics industry and consumer products, pesticides, and other industrial by-products and pollutants. By implementing an endocrine disruptor screening program, H.R. 5320 gives priority to EDCs, lays out criteria that should be used to choose for which chemicals to test and screen, allows for timely updating of testing protocols for EDCs, and requires the publication of testing data in a public database. The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program will greatly improve the state of research, detection, and prevention of overexposure from EDCs in our environment.”
Consumers Union said the overall AQUA bill provides “much-needed investment in upgrading our local drinking water systems, enhanced oversight and enforcement, and programs to reduce the infiltration of chemicals dangerous to human health. Safe drinking water is a fundamental right that requires vigilance and continual investment to maintain. Even in a tight fiscal environment, there is no time to delay in preventing contamination and degradation of our nation’s drinking water supplies and infrastructure. Indeed, the potential economic damage is far greater if these investments are not made.”
Contact:
David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org
See below for the full text of Consumers Union’s letter to Chairman Waxman and committee members:
May 26, 2010
The Honorable Henry Waxman
Chair, Committee on Energy and Commerce
United States House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
RE: Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010 (H.R. 5320)
Dear Chairman Waxman:
Consumers Union commends Representatives Eshoo and Miller in introducing “Get the Lead Out Act” (H.R. 5289) and Representative Markey in introducing “Endocrine Disruptor Screening Enhancement Act of 2010.” We urge you to favorably consider this legislation (now Sections 15 and 16 of the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act of 2010 (“AQUA” or H.R. 5320) before the Committee and send it to the House floor for swift passage in its current form.
Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
The persistence of lead in drinking water is a significant threat to human health, and H.R. 5320 would essentially eliminate the use of lead in drinking water fixtures and plumbing. Although progress has been made in removing lead from paint, children’s products, and gasoline, lead still persists in drinking water, soil, dust, and the ambient air. Scientific consensus maintains that lead is a potent neurotoxin, and there is no safe level of lead in the human body. The continued presence and new installation of lead plumbing fixtures is completely unacceptable and is a particularly potent path of lead poisoning. The US EPA estimates that drinking water plumbing fixtures likely contributes between 10 and 20% of human lead exposure. Families who live in homes with lead-laden plumbing fixtures bear a disproportionate risk of brain damage and death resulting from lead poisoning.
California, Vermont and Maryland have all passed legislation aimed at eliminating the use of lead in all drinking water plumbing and fixtures sold in these states. H.R. 5320 provides a common sense and essential limitation on lead exposure to protect families throughout the United States.
Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program
Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs) present a variety of risks to human health, including interference with endocrine function and increased risk of cancer. These risks vary greatly depending on the type of chemical, combination and timing of chemical exposure, dosage, and a variety of genetic and environmental factors. Phthalates, bisphenol A, polychlorinated biphenyls and other EDCs are used in the plastics industry and consumer products, pesticides, and other industrial by-products and pollutants. By implementing an endocrine disruptor screening program, H.R. 5320 gives priority to EDCs, lays out criteria that should be used to choose for which chemicals to test and screen, allows for timely updating of testing protocols for EDCs, and requires the publication of testing data in a public database. The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program will greatly improve the state of research, detection, and prevention of overexposure from EDCs in our environment.
AQUA
Consumers Union welcomes AQUA’s much-needed investment in upgrading our local drinking water systems, enhanced oversight and enforcement, and programs to reduce the infiltration of chemicals dangerous to human health. Safe drinking water is a fundamental right that requires vigilance and continual investment to maintain. Even in a tight fiscal environment, there is no time to delay in preventing contamination and degradation of our nation’s drinking water supplies and infrastructure. Indeed, the potential economic damage is far greater if these investments are not made.
We thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Sincerely,
Ellen Bloom
Director of Federal Policy, Washington Office
Shannon Baker-Branstetter
Policy Analyst
Cc: Energy and Commerce Committee Membership