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Letters to the Herald

Ensuring Clean Water in Pennsylvania


You may have seen the alarming news stories about PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contaminating the drinking water supply of municipalities across Pennsylvania.

Beyond causing adverse health effects, the EPA and the American Bar Association stress that PFAS contamination can lower real estate values, both in terms of market value appraisals and tax assessments. As a comparison, studies have shown that fracking can lower property values by as much as 15%, particularly in areas where there are concerns about contaminated water. That means homes lose value, and local governments have to operate with reduced revenues. PFAS contamination can also increase the likelihood of future environmental or zoning regulations that restrict property owners.

A range of actions can be taken to prevent PFAS contamination. Many contaminations, including the one in Emmaus, have resulted from the use of fire-fighting foams that contain PFAS during training exercises. Fire departments should switch immediately to PFAS-free foams and adjust their training programs.

The Pennsylvania Senate has already passed a bill that would restrict the use of PFAS to protect firefighters and safeguard the environment. Our legislators also need to ensure that fire departments, particularly volunteer departments, receive sufficient funds to swap out PFAS supplies and to provide the proper training for using PFAS-free foams. Future grants should stipulate that fire departments no longer use PFAS products.

Contact your Pennsylvania House representative and urge them to vote in favor of House Bill 1166 so the proposed PFAS legislation will become law.

Mark Pinsley of South Whitehall Township is Lehigh County controller. He is running for Pennsylvania Senate in the 16th District, which includes Upper Bucks County.