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Reps. Russo and Lightbody re-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 15, 2022
C. Allison Russo News

COLUMBUS —State Reps. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) today gave sponsor testimony in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee on The Safe Drinking Water Act, legislation to guarantee safe drinking water in Ohio.  House Bill (HB) 365 would require 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.

“It is critical that we set standards in Ohio to protect our water sources from ‘forever’ chemicals such as PFAS, Chromium-6, and 1,4-dioxane. The scientific data being gathered on these dangerous toxins makes it imperative that we address the need for clean water and the elimination of pollutants in our environment. We serve communities across Ohio and are acting now in the best interests of the health and well-being of current and future Ohioans, ” said Rep. Lightbody.

In Ohio, toxic PFAS compounds have been found in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati drinking water. More recently, rain water in Cleveland also showed high levels of PFAS.  The Ohio EPA recently finished its final testing for PFAS in drinking water from Ohio’s public water systems at the direction of Governor DeWine, of which 106 water systems were found to have some detectable level of PFAS.  However, Ohio currently has no established maximum levels for many known drinking water contaminants. 

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

HB 365 now awaits further hearings in the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.