The bill, before a Rhode Island House committee, would authorize the state's department of health to set its own maximums on PFAS levels.
The Rhode Island Department of Health has already been testing the state's water plants for PFAS for some years now. (After testing more than 100 water sources, it found only one that fell short of the EPA's PFAS standards.)
This new bill would let the department set its own maximum levels of PFAS, stricter than the EPA's standard of 70 parts per trillion.
The family of toxic, man-made chemicals can contribute to various health defects, particularly for pregnant women and infants. Scientists trace PFAS's presence in drinking water back to its usage in manufacturing, most notably in some firefighting foams.
The science is still evolving, says Jennifer Guelfo, a professor at Texas Tech. Guelfo was a post-doctoral researcher at Brown University and helped the department of health complete its initial water testing.
"I don't really advocate freaking out about PFAS," Guelfo says. "I think people should be encouraged by the fact that people are being proactive about this issue in their state. That said, the science is still changing, so it’s always a good issue to keep your finger on the pulse of."
The one site with PFAS levels beyond EPA standards -- the Oakland Association in Burrillville -- has since been shut down.