PA received $37.5 million from infrastructure law to remove “forever chemicals” from drinking water

forever chemicals

Sign outside the filtration system designed to filter out PFAS Forever Chemicals from the drink water supply, at Well #2 of the Horsham Water and Sewer Authority facility in Horsham, Pa., on August 22, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

May 15, 2024

The commonwealth has received over $300 million in funding from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law to remove PFAS, or forever chemicals, contamination from drinking water.

Pennsylvania lawmakers announced last week that parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania will receive $37.5 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to remove Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which are commonly known as “forever chemicals,” from drinking water.

“This landmark funding will help us tackle water contamination head-on in Pennsylvania by implementing vital testing projects to identify and rectify PFAS and other harmful substances from breaching Pennsylvania households,” US Sen. John Fetterman said in a statement.

“Everyone deserves access to safe and clean water. We have to make sure no community is left behind. This isn’t just about infrastructure, it’s about equity and environmental justice.”

PFAS contamination has been an ongoing issue affecting residents living near two former bases in Horsham and Warminster, which are two suburban communities outside of Philadelphia.

Forever chemicals are a main ingredient used in manufacturing firefighting foam used on military bases and it is suspected to be the main source of PFAS contamination.

The military and the Environmental Protection Agency performed tests around the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster in 2014 according to NBC News.

One private well tested for PFAS contamination was close to 40 times higher than what the EPA recommends as a safe consumption limit, which is 70 ppt (parts per trillion), and groundwater near the Willow Grove base had PFAS present at 329,500 ppt, or more than 4,000 times the EPA’s safe consumption limit.

These forever chemicals are dangerous because they do not break down over time and are linked to many forms of cancer.

Pennsylvania has received over $300 million in funding from the infrastructure law to combat PFAS contamination and upgrade water infrastructure since 2023.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution guarantees our right to clean water, and as lawmakers, we have an obligation to fulfill that promise across our commonwealth—that includes combatting PFAS,” US Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said in a statement.

“For too long ‘forever chemicals’ have harmed communities in Pennsylvania, like mine. The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a major step in environmental justice and in protecting the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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