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Reps. Russo and Lightbody introduce legislation to protect safe drinking water for Ohio's families

The Safe Drinking Water Act will require Ohio to establish limits for toxins in drinking water
February 6, 2020
C. Allison Russo News

State Reps. Allison Russo (D- Upper Arlington) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) today announced the introduction of The Safe Drinking Water Act to guarantee safe drinking water in Ohio.  The bill provides for state-level standards for drinking water to limit known toxics and protect residents from harm.

“People across Ohio are being exposed to unsafe drinking water that is polluted with dangerous toxins and contaminants, putting our citizens’ health and safety at risk simply by drinking the water that flows into their homes and public places,” said Rep. Russo. “Our legislature has an obligation to ensure every resident in every community of Ohio has access to safe and clean drinking water. By introducing the Safe Drinking Water Act, we can ensure Ohioans have safe drinking water, as well as set a national example for other states to follow.”        

This legislation will require the Director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency to adopt rules establishing maximum allowable contaminant levels in drinking and surface water for certain contaminants, including toxic fluorinated chemicals, known as PFAS or “forever chemicals.”Specifically, the Ohio EPA would be required to establish a maximum contaminant level for PFAS compounds, Chromium-6 (the Erin Brockovich chemical), and 1.4 dioxane.

With the Safe Drinking Water Act, state-level standards would be set to protect residents from known toxins that evidence has shown to increase the risk of cancer, reduce fertility in women, interfere with hormones, increase cholesterol levels, and negatively affect the immune system and development in infants and children.

“The scientific data being gathered on these dangerous toxins has created an imperative to address the need for clean water and the elimination of pollutants in our environment,” said Rep. Lightbody.  “Recent changes in federal water standards make it critical that we set standards in Ohio to protect our water sources from ‘forever’ chemicals such as those in this bill.  We serve communities across Ohio and future generations deserve advocates who act now in the best interests of their health and well-being.”

In Ohio, toxic PFAS compounds have recently been found in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati drinking water. In Dec. 2019, Governor DeWine released an action plan for the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Health to fully evaluate the prevalence of PFAS in Ohio’s drinking water. However, Ohio currently has no established maximum levels for many known drinking water contaminants.

States including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont have already taken state-level action to protect their residents from these dangerous chemicals.